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The Sea (Corinne Bailey Rae album)

The Sea is the second studio album by English singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae. It was released on 20 January 2010 by Virgin Records.

The Sea
A woman in a white dress laying on white sheets in a day-lit forest
Studio album by
Released20 January 2010 (2010-01-20)
Recorded2009
Studio
Genre
Length42:50
LabelVirgin
Producer
Corinne Bailey Rae chronology
Live in London & New York
(2007)
The Sea
(2010)
The Love EP
(2011)
Singles from The Sea
  1. "I'd Do It All Again"
    Released: 12 January 2010
  2. "Paris Nights/New York Mornings"
    Released: 29 March 2010
  3. "Closer"
    Released: 2 August 2010

The album was conceived following Rae's hiatus from music, taken in the wake of her husband Jason Rae's death. She recorded The Sea at Limefield Studio in Manchester, England, during 2009, working mostly with a host of session musicians and the record producers Steve Brown and Steve Chrisanthou. It features songs written by Rae before and after her husband's death, touching on themes of love, lament and solace.

The Sea debuted at number five on the UK Albums Chart and was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). It also charted at number seven on the Billboard 200 in the United States, where it had sold 156,000 copies by April 2010. A critical success, The Sea received mostly positive reviews and was nominated for the 2010 Mercury Prize. Rae supported the album with a concert tour in early 2010.

Writing and recordingEdit

Following the multi-platinum and award-winning success of her eponymous debut album in 2006, Rae began to work on songs for a follow-up album in late 2007.[1] However, she took a hiatus from music, following the death of her husband, Scottish saxophonist Jason Rae,[2] in March 2008 to an accidental overdose of methadone and alcohol.[3] For a long period of time, Rae said, "I didn't really hear any songs. Normally in my everyday life, I'd be in the car and come up with a little line, or I'd look at something and try to describe it ... I didn't really think in that way anymore. Nothing was coming in."[4] After months of grief and isolation, Rae revisited her work the following year and composed additional material for The Sea.[1][2]

 
Rae performing in January 2010

The Sea contains songs written before and after the death of Rae's husband,[3] all of which she said resonated with her: "The circumstances have cast it all in a different light. It began as a 'before and after' record, but it's become an 'after' record."[2] The ballad "I'd Do It All Again" was written by Rae in January 2008 after an argument with her husband.[4] She told NME that writing the rest of the album helped her handle the different emotions she felt after her husband's death: "When I started writing that I was thinking, 'I don't really want this song to go into the world, 'cause it's so naked...' But I had to."[5] "I Would Like to Call it Beauty", she said, was written about finding beauty in the "darkest times", later telling journalist Sean O'Hagan:

Rae recorded most of The Sea in 2009 at Manchester's Limefield Studio.[2] She co-produced the record mostly with Steve Brown and Steve Chrisanthou, both of whom had worked on her debut album. Rae pursued a sound more aggressive than on her debut.[4] During the recording process, Rae listened to Sly and the Family Stone's 1973 album Fresh and Curtis Mayfield's 1975 album There's No Place Like America Today, as well as the music of Nina Simone and Leonard Cohen.[2] A live band was used in the album's recording, which was also a departure from her debut. "On the first album, it was me and a producer in a basement going through hundreds of snare drum sounds to find the right one", she recalled. "With a live band, you can stretch out more and try new things out without feeling you're having to undo this meticulously built-up track."[2]

The album was titled after the recurring theme of water in songs such as "Diving for Hearts" and "I Would Like to Call It Beauty", while the music was said by Rae to possess "a kind of tidal movement to it too, in the way that we recorded the songs. You know, sometimes it would just be me and my guitar. Then we'd really sort of swell up into these big arrangements, only to then retreat back to it just being me and my guitar again."[6] According to Chris Mugan from The Independent, The Sea was a departure from the polished sound of Rae's debut album,[7] while Paste magazine's Steve Labate said Rae expanded on her debut's mix of contemporary R&B and older soul music by incorporating pop rock, singer-songwriter influences, and occasional elements of bossa nova and trip hop.[8] In the opinion of Craig McLean from The Daily Telegraph, the record's music evoked Simone's singing and the 1968 Van Morrison album Astral Weeks.[9]

Release and promotionEdit

Before releasing The Sea, Rae showcased songs from the album on a preview concert tour in late 2009, playing venues in England, Canada, Los Angeles, and New York.[4] She premiered the songs during a 23 November 2009 performance at The Tabernacle in London,[1] her first complete gig since her hiatus from the music scene.[10] She also showcased its songs on 7 December at New York City's Hiro Ballroom, which was recorded for the public television series Live from the Artists Den.[11] Rae also promoted the album with guest performances on the talk shows Today and Later... with Jools Holland.[4] Three singles were released from the album:[12] "I'd Do It All Again" on 12 January 2010,[13] "Paris Nights/New York Mornings" on 29 March,[14] and "Closer" on 2 August.[15] Rae's record label EMI sent the singles to music video/radio stations of multiple formats, including urban adult contemporary, smooth jazz and adult album alternative.[4]

The Sea debuted at number five on the UK Albums Chart,[16] selling 22,914 copies in its first week.[17] The album was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on 14 May 2010,[18] and as of May 2016, it had sold 104,331 copies in the United Kingdom.[17] In the United States, the album debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200 with 53,000 copies sold in its first week.[19] By April 2010, it had sold 156,000 copies in the US, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[20] On 27 February 2010, Rae embarked on the European leg of her supporting tour for the album, The Sea Tour, which featured singer-songwriter Daniel Merriweather as her opening act. The tour began its North American leg on 9 April.[21]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.2/10[22]
Metacritic78/100[23]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [24]
The Daily Telegraph     [25]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[26]
The Guardian     [27]
The Independent     [28]
Los Angeles Times    [29]
Q     [30]
Rolling Stone     [31]
Spin     [32]
The Times     [33]

The Sea was met with generally positive reviews. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 78, based on 21 reviews.[23]

Reviewing the album in The Observer, Kitty Empire said it is "saturated in feeling and graced by superior musicianship".[34] AllMusic's David Jeffries called it "a testament to Rae's artistic growth",[24] while Steve Leftridge of PopMatters found the album "richer" than her debut, with a "darker and more sophisticated sonic palette".[35] Q credited Rae for making The Sea never sound "exploitative or mawkish, just truthful and real".[30] In the Los Angeles Times, Powers deemed the album a "remarkable accomplishment" and "a step toward something—Rae's inner peace, and her next artistic breakthrough—that has its own considerable rewards".[29]

Some reviewers expressed reservations. The Observer's Graeme Thompson felt the album's strong points offer "glimpses of a new horizon shining beyond the riptides of pain and sorrow", but at times it sounds "dull and flat".[36] Slant Magazine's Nick Day was more critical, finding the music forgettable and the lyrics introspective but vague.[37] Hot Press journalist Patrick Freyne believed the music exhibits an "excessive tastefulness" while panning the contributions of the session musicians, whom he said were "technically proficient" but sounded soulless.[38]

In late 2010, The Sea was named the year's best album by The Guardian's Caroline Sullivan,[39] while Powers ranked it ninth on her year-end list of 2010's best albums.[40] Q and Uncut included the album on their respective year-end lists at numbers 22 and 37.[41][42] It was also nominated for the 2010 Mercury Prize, awarded annually for the best record from the UK or Ireland; Rae lost out to The xx's self-titled debut album.[43]

Track listingEdit

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Are You Here"Corinne Bailey Rae
  • C. B. Rae
  • Steve Brown
4:13
2."I'd Do It All Again"C. B. Rae
  • C. B. Rae
  • Brown
3:08
3."Feels Like the First Time"
  • C. B. Rae
  • Brown
  • C. B. Rae
  • Brown
3:13
4."The Blackest Lily"C. B. Rae3:38
5."Closer"C. B. Rae
  • C. B. Rae
  • Brown
4:17
6."Love's On Its Way"C. B. Rae
  • C. B. Rae
  • Brown
3:55
7."I Would Like to Call It Beauty"
  • C. B. Rae
  • Philip Rae
  • C. B. Rae
  • Brown
4:19
8."Paris Nights/New York Mornings"C. B. Rae3:51
9."Paper Dolls"C. B. Rae
  • C. B. Rae
  • Chrisanthou
  • Brown[a]
3:20
10."Diving for Hearts"
  • C. B. Rae
  • Jennifer Birch
  • C. B. Rae
  • Chrisanthou
4:51
11."The Sea"C. B. Rae
  • C. B. Rae
  • Chrisanthou
4:05
Total length:42:50

Notes

  • ^[a] signifies an additional producer

PersonnelEdit

Credits adapted from the liner notes of The Sea.[45]

  • Corinne Bailey Rae – vocals, backing vocals, production (all tracks); piano (track 1); percussion (tracks 1, 4, 9, 10); electric guitar (tracks 1, 6, 8, 9); acoustic guitar (tracks 2, 7, 8); Spanish guitar (track 3); glass organ (track 6); autoharp (tracks 6, 11); glockenspiel (tracks 8, 10); Stylophone (track 9); choral arrangement, guitar (track 10)
  • Freddie August – first violin (tracks 2, 8, 11)
  • Mike Baker – assistant engineering (tracks 1, 7)
  • Katherine Barnecutt – viola (tracks 5, 6)
  • Lucie Barnicoat – violin (tracks 2, 3, 8, 11)
  • Garrath Beckwith – bass trombone (track 3)
  • Sally Bell – viola (track 3)
  • Sam Bell – congas (track 3)
  • Nia Bevan – string contracting (tracks 2, 8, 11); first violin, string contracting, trombone contracting (track 3)
  • Ruth Bingham – cello (tracks 2, 8, 11)
  • Bob Birch – piano (track 10)
  • Jennifer Birch – backing vocals (tracks 1–3, 6, 7, 9); choir (track 10)
  • Adam Blackstone – bass (track 4)
  • Ian Bone – violin (tracks 2, 3, 8, 11)
  • Steve Brown – horn arrangements, string arrangements (all tracks); production (tracks 1–7); backing vocals (tracks 1–4, 6, 7, 11); glockenspiel, Sharma guitar (track 1); horn recording (tracks 1, 2, 11); recording (tracks 1, 3–7); bass (tracks 1, 11); assistant engineering (track 2); organ (tracks 2, 7–9); string recording (tracks 2, 8, 11); acoustic piano (track 3); synthesiser (tracks 3–6, 8, 10); electric piano (tracks 3, 7, 9); percussion (track 4); piano (tracks 4, 5, 9); additional bass (tracks 4, 9); Rhodes (tracks 5, 8, 10); Clavinet (tracks 5, 9); piano frame (track 6); synth bass (tracks 6, 7); flute arrangements (track 7); additional production, Stylophone nonet (track 9); additional recording (tracks 9, 11); Hammond organ (track 10); harmonium (track 11)
  • Steve "Billy" Buckley – bass, guitar (track 9)
  • Nick Burns – cello (track 3)
  • John Burr – harmonica (track 7)
  • Steve Chrisanthou – recording (tracks 8–10); production (tracks 8–11); additional recording (track 11)
  • Ben Cotterell – horn recording (tracks 1, 2, 11); string recording (tracks 2, 8, 11)
  • Alex Cowper – artwork, design
  • David Coyle – horn recording (tracks 1, 2, 11); string recording (tracks 2, 8, 11)
  • Jane Coyle – viola (tracks 2, 3, 8, 11)
  • Simon Denton – solo cello (track 2); cello (tracks 2, 8, 11)
  • Barnaby Dickinson – trombone (track 5)
  • Liam Duffy – French horn (tracks 1, 2, 8, 11)
  • Julie Edwards – violin (tracks 2, 8, 11)
  • John Ellis – bass (track 2); piano (track 11)
  • Tom Elmhirst – mixing
  • Paul Farr – electric guitar (tracks 2, 6)
  • Mike Feingold – electric guitar (track 4)
  • Luke Flowers – drums (tracks 1–3, 6, 7, 9, 10)
  • Tierney Gearon – photography
  • Melinda Gourlay – cello (track 3)
  • Richard Green – guitar (track 9)
  • John Hart – bass trombone (track 3)
  • Kenny Higgins – backing vocals (track 1); electric guitar (track 3); bass (tracks 3, 5, 8)
  • Carol Jarvis – additional orchestration, horn contracting (tracks 2, 8, 11); string contracting, trombone contracting (track 3)
  • Levin Jones – violin (track 3)
  • Matthew Kettle – recording (tracks 2, 5, 6, 8–11)
  • Leeds University Liturgical Choir – choir (track 10)
  • Raymond Lester – viola (tracks 2, 8, 11)
  • Gareth Lockrane – flute (tracks 5, 7)
  • John McCallum – backing vocals (tracks 1–3, 6, 7, 11); Spanish guitar (track 3); talk box guitar (track 4); guitar (track 5)
  • James Pattinson – violin (tracks 2, 5, 6, 8, 11)
  • David Pearson – guitar (track 10)
  • Kate Pelling – violin (track 3)
  • James Poyser – organ, production (track 4)
  • Melanie Purves – horn conducting (track 1); conducting, orchestration (tracks 2, 3, 8, 11); string contracting, trombone contracting (track 3)
  • Eryl Roberts – drums (track 11)
  • Adam Robinson – violin (tracks 2, 3, 8, 11)
  • Seb Rochford – drums (track 8)
  • Lara Rose – backing vocals (track 11)
  • Ray Staff – mastering
  • Malcolm Straehan – flugelhorn, trumpet (track 5)
  • Ahmir 'Questlove' Thompson – drums, production, tambourine (track 4)
  • Andy Thornton – assistant engineering (tracks 8, 10)
  • David Tollington – French horn (tracks 1, 2, 11)
  • Helen Tonge – violin (tracks 5, 6)
  • Bryan White – choral director (track 10)
  • Myke Wilson – drums (track 5)
  • Semay Wu – cello (tracks 5, 6)

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[18] Gold 104,331[17]

Release historyEdit

Region Date Edition Label Ref.
Japan 20 January 2010 Standard EMI [44]
Canada 26 January 2010 [65]
United States Capitol [66]
Australia 29 January 2010 EMI [67]
Germany [68]
Ireland Virgin [69]
Italy EMI [70]
United Kingdom 1 February 2010 Virgin [71]
France 15 February 2010 EMI [72]
Japan 8 December 2010 Special [44]

ReferencesEdit

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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit