Corinne Bailey Rae - The Heart Speaks in Whispers (2016)

Corinne Bailey Rae
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Corrinne Bailey Rae – The Heart Speaks in Whispers

There has been much talk about how Corrinne Bailey Rae’s latest project, The Heart Speaks in Whispers, is more optimistic than her previous joint, The Sea. The reason, of course, is obvious. Bailey Rae’s husband, Jason, passed away from an accidental overdose in 2008 – two years before The Sea dropped, and the singer/songwriter penned that album while still in the grieving process. A ballad such as the lovely and poignant “I’d Do It All Again” may or may not be about her sudden loss. However, the song’s theme serves as a reminder that love and loss often walk in tandem and those of us who embrace the former do so with the knowledge that we will at some point confront the latter.

Corrinne Bailey Rae – The Heart Speaks in Whispers

There has been much talk about how Corrinne Bailey Rae’s latest project, The Heart Speaks in Whispers, is more optimistic than her previous joint, The Sea. The reason, of course, is obvious. Bailey Rae’s husband, Jason, passed away from an accidental overdose in 2008 – two years before The Sea dropped, and the singer/songwriter penned that album while still in the grieving process. A ballad such as the lovely and poignant “I’d Do It All Again” may or may not be about her sudden loss. However, the song’s theme serves as a reminder that love and loss often walk in tandem and those of us who embrace the former do so with the knowledge that we will at some point confront the latter.

Still, melancholy and the push-pull between love and pain has always been present in Bailey Rae’s work. Her self-titled debut contained the sunny “Put Your Records On,” but the emotional tug of war that has been a recurring theme in Bailey Rae’s music was present in her first big hit – the much covered “Like A Star.”

Bailey Rae continues to explore themes such as reciprocity in relationships on tracks such as the “Been To The Moon,” the loopy throwback 70s funk cut that features flourishes of jazz piano. The tune is the lead single from The Heart Speaks in Whispers and features the artsy video that finds Bailey Rae in the role of a space traveler to a planet that looks like Montego Bay. The “moon” in this case are those emotional locations such as love, vulnerability, honesty and willingness to sacrifice, where Bailey Rae has traveled as an artist, and the time has arrived for that potential special someone to show he is willing to make that same trip for her: “I’ve been to the moon/Don’t tempt me/I’ve been where you are God help me/I’ve been to the moon and stars for you/And now it’s your turn to go for me too.”

The Heart Speaks in Whispers showcases Bailey Rae’s continued evolution as an artist as she draws more fully on all of her musical influences. Traces of her classical training and her years singing in the Brethren church can be heard in the tightly harmonic backing vocals on “The Skies Will Break,” while “Taken By Dreams” fuses funk with the rock flourishes that Bailey Rae cultivated both as a fan of Jimi Hendrix and Lenny Kravitz and as her turn member of an all-female indie rock band, while “Ice Cream Colours” finds her going on in on the indie rock.

The percussively soulful “Walk On,” with its inspirational message of perseverance and the gospel influenced backing vocals recall the track “Season Change,” which was among my favorites from her debut album. Both reveal Bailey Rae as an underrated soul singer. “Night” is a track that is distinguished by the violins – Bailey Rae trained in classical violin before gravitating to vocals – and 1960s styled wall of sound backing vocals.

Bailey Rae’s sweet voice that is a unique mixture of American soul with a hint of British properness has always been ideally suited for ballads and this record features the acoustically soulful “Do You Ever Think of Me,” a track that begins simple and builds to an instrumental and vocal climax, as well as the seductively lush “Green Aphrodisiac.”

Corrine Bailey Rae suffered a horrible loss. She is an intensely private person, and the public didn’t witness her pain. Instead, she threw herself into the music while recovery took place away from the lights. She remarried in 2013 and, with The Heart Speaks In Whispers, has released this album that reminds us how throughout her personal journey she has remained a strong creative force and an artist who speaks to her audience – both in whispers and otherwise. Highly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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