A To Z is back with the Letter C featuring the brilliant, and in my opinion underrated, Corinne Bailey Rae. She’s one of my favorite black voices and I’m excited to share the songs, and albums, I love of her. I’d love to know your favorites, too.
Corinne Bailey Rae
A To Z of Black Voices In Music
The Letter C
My first Corinne Bailey Rae encounter was hearing the song that most people probably heard first – “Put Your Records On” – released in 2006 on her self-titled debut album. It was released in late February/early March, though for me this song is forever connected to Summertime. It has that feeling to it – that breezy, carefree, drive with your car windows rolled down, and sing-a-long – and it has found its way to many a Summertime/Road Trip Playlist that I’ve made. Even this morning, on a June gloom rainy Monday morning, I hit play, close my eyes, and feel myself driving to the beach with this playing as my soundtrack. Some songs just feel seasonal to me – and “Put Your Records On” is one of those songs, for sure.
“Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae
from the album, Corinne Bailey Rae (2006)
“Girl, put your records on,
tell me your favorite song.
You go ahead,
let your hair down.”
There was so much more to hear and experience with Corinne beyond “Put Your Records On”, starting with that debut album. I played it from start-to-finish often after picking up the CD, in 2006. Some of my favorite tracks that year were “Butterfly”, “Trouble Sleeping”, and “Breathless” – especially “Breathless”. So dreamy and jazzy and again, so Summertime-feeling. I was enamored with her voice, the tone, her intonations, her range, and style. I was hooked on this album.
Have a listen to this live version of “Breathless”:
“Breathless” (live at St. Luke’s) by Corinne Bailey Rae
“I get so breathless,
when you call my name,
I’ve often wondered,
do you feel the same?
There’s a chemistry, energy, a synchronicity,
when we’re all alone.
So don’t tell me,
you can’t see,
what I’m thinking of.”
On an extended version of her debut album, there is this gorgeous cover of Björk’s song, “Venus As A Boy” that I just love. Good covers are everything.
“Venus As A Boy” by Corinne Bailey Rae
from the extended album, Corinne Bailey Rae (2006)
“He believes in a beauty.
He’s Venus as a boy.”
In 2010, a long awaited second studio album was released (there was a live album in-between, that is also so good and so worth checking-out). Corinne’s sophomore album is called The Sea, a title that already had me interested, as the ocean has always been so vital and important to me. The album started off with one of my favorite tracks, “Are You Here”. I love the more stripped down sound that showcases Corinne’s voice even more than her first album. There is also this sonic layering that kicks in at about the halfway mark of the song that gives it a new depth that really stood out to me from the first listen.
“Are You Here” by Corinne Bailey Rae
from the album, The Sea (2010)
“It’s hard to recall the taste of summer
when everywhere around,
the chill of winter –
it gets so far away.”
Another favorite track off of The Sea is the funkier, more upbeat “Paris Nights/New York Mornings”. I threw this one on so many Playlists that year. It was my favorite to play while driving, especially at night with the street lights and Los Angeles neon as background.
Also, I love myself some city songs – New York and Paris all in one – give it to me.
“Paris Nights/New York Mornings” by Corinne Bailey Rae
from the album, The Sea (2010)
In 2016, the most recent Corinne album came out. The Heart Speaks In Whispers is a more mature listen, blending the feelings and sensibilities of her earlier two albums with something new. I can still hear the jazz influence here, as well as some R&B and Soul. There is something else, too. Something a bit “alternative” shaken and mixed up with something almost Gospel sounding. I think this album should have gotten so much more attention than it did.
I don’t think I gave it the deserved attention either at the time of release, but I’ve been re-listening/re-discovering it over the past two weeks and I find myself falling hard for it. Do yourself a favor and queue it up for your next album-play. I think you’ll be glad you did.
My current favorite track off it? “Caramel”. Definitely.
“Caramel” by Corinne Bailey Rae
from the album, The Heart Speaks In Whispers (2010)
“It tastes like caramel,
after all this bitterness.
Delicious as caramel.
And it’s like seeing the sun again,
after years of only pouring rain on my soul.”
I am hoping we get a new album from Corinne this year or next. We are due for one and I’d love to hear what she will do next.
In the meantime, here is a Playlist of My Favorite Corinne Bailey Rae songs. I hope you enjoy it.
Corinne Bailey Rae
My Favorite Songs
“Put Your Records On”
“Venus As A Boy”
“Paris Nights/New York Mornings”
“Like a Star”
“Hey, I Won’t Break Your Heart”
“I’d Do It All Again”
“Another Rainy Day”
“Low Red Moon”
“Is This Love”
“Feels Like the First Time”
“I Wanna Be Your Lover”
“Call Me When You Get This”
“The Blackest Lily”
“Ice Cream Colours”
“The Skies Will Break”
“Horse Print Dress”