The Sea (Corinne Bailey Rae album)

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The Sea
Studio album by Corinne Bailey Rae
Released 20 January 2010 (2010-01-20)
Recorded 2009; Limefield Studios, Manchester
Genre Pop-soul,[1] pop rock[2]
Length 42:46
Label EMI
Producer Steve Brown, Steve Chrisanthou, Corinne Bailey Rae
Corinne Bailey Rae chronology
Corinne Bailey Rae
The Sea
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 Sea is the second studio album by English singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae, released 20 January 2010 on EMI. It is the follow-up to her eponymous debut album and was conceived following her hiatus from recording, taken in the wake of her husband Jason Rae's death. Production for the album took place at Limefield Studios in Manchester, England during 2009 and was handled by Rae, Steve Brown, and Steve Chrisanthou. The Sea features songs written by Rae both before and after her husband's death with themes of love, lament, and solace.

The album debuted at number five on the UK Albums Chart, selling 22,914 copies in its first week. It also entered at number seven on the US Billboard 200 chart with first-week sales of 53,000 copies. Upon its release, The Sea received generally positive reviews from most music critics. It was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry in February 2010, following shipments of 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom. As of April 2010, the album has sold 156,000 copies in the United States. It has been nominated for the 2010 Mercury Prize, which is awarded annually for the best album in the UK or Ireland.


Following the multi-platinum and award-winning success of her eponymous debut album, Corinne Bailey Rae began to work on songs for a follow-up album at the end of 2007.[3] However, she took a hiatus from recording and the music scene after the death of her husband, Scottish saxophonist Jason Rae,[4] in March 2008 to an accidental overdose of methadone and alcohol.[3][5] After months of grief and isolation, Rae revisited her work the following year and composed additional material for The Sea.[3][4]


Rae played guitar while recording the album.[6]

Recording sessions for the album took place primarily at Limefield Studios in Manchester during 2009,[4] and production was handled by Rae with co-producers Steve Brown and Steve Chrisanthou.[3] During the recording process, Rae listened to Curtis Mayfield's There's No Place Like America Today (1975) and Sly & the Family Stone's Fresh (1973), as well as the music of Nina Simone and Leonard Cohen.[4] According to Rae, a live band was implemented in the album's recording, which was a departure from her debut album, stating "On the first album, it was me and a producer in a basement going though hundreds of snare drum sounds to find the right one. 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".[4]

In an interview with Pete Lewis of Blues & Soul, Rae discussed the album title's meaning with respect to recording the music, stating "I just felt that lyrically, throughout the course of the album, there seemed to be a lot of water coming into play. You know, in addition to the song 'The Sea' itself, I also wrote about the sea on 'Diving For Hearts'; while on 'I Would Like To Call It Beauty' there was reference to water... Plus I also felt the actual SOUND of the record had 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]


The Sea contains songs written before and after Jason Rae's death.[5] According to Rae, most of the songs carry personal themes.[5] In an interview with NME, Bailey Rae discussed process of making music, particularly the song "Are You Here", which deals with her grief over her husband's death, stating "I feel like I've been playing music and writing and using music to help me with all the different emotions that I've been feeling. 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".[7]

In an interview with The Observer '​s Sean O'Hagan, Rae discussed the effects of her husband's death on her musical style and the songs written before and after her hiatus, stating "What surprises me most is how the songs I wrote before it happened resonate almost as much as the ones I wrote after. 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".[4] On the song "I Would Like to Call it Beauty", Rae discussed its theme of finding beauty in the "darkest times" and its relationship with The Sea, stating "There is something miraculous that pushes you along, makes you keep going, makes you carry on. It's really about the mystery of that. In fact, the whole album is about that in a way; it's about loss but it's also about hope, about keeping going and trying to find that beauty".[4]

Musically, The Sea is a departure from the polished sound of Rae's debut album,[8] and incorporates elements of soul, jazz, and rock music.[9]

Release and promotion[edit]

Rae performing at Le Divan du Monde, 2010

The Sea was first released on 20 January 2010 in Japan through EMI Music Japan.[10] Its release in the United States followed on 26 January 2010 through Capitol Records,[11] and in the United Kingdom on 1 February 2010 through EMI.[12] The album was also released in Brazil on 15 February 2010 through EMI.[13] The album was offered free of charge with a subscription to Q magazine, ending 15 April 2010.[14]

Rae presented material from The Sea along with her earlier songs on 23 November 2009 performance at The Tabernacle in London,[3] her first complete gig since her hiatus from the music scene.[15] Music critics that reviewed the performance perceived a grittier, organic sound and singing, with more soul and jazz influences and darker, more personal themes than Rae's previous work.[15][16][17][18] Rae also showcased songs from the album on 7 December 2009 at New York City's Hiro Ballroom.[19] The performance was recorded for the public television series Live from the Artists Den.[19] She also previewed the album at Joe's Pub on 9 December 2009, with ticket sales benefiting Pump Aid.[20]

The album's supporting tour, The Sea Tour, began its European leg on 27 February 2010 in London, and featured singer-songwriter Daniel Merriweather as Rae's opening act.[21] It is set to begin its North American leg on 9 April 2010.[21]

Three singles were released in promotion of the album.[22] Its first single "I'd Do It All Again" was released 12 January 2010.[11] The album's second single, "Paris Nights/New York Mornings", was released 29 March 2010.[23] It spent three weeks on the Japan Hot 100, peaking at number 31.[24] "Closer" was issued to radio on 25 January 2010 in the United States.[25] It spent 15 weeks and peaked at number 31 on the US R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart,[26] and it spent six weeks and peaked at number 20 on the US Jazz Songs chart.[27] "Closer" was released as the album's third single on 2 August 2010.[28][29][30]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number five on the UK Albums Chart with first week sales of 22,914 copies.[31][32] It dropped to number 15 in its second week on the chart.[33] In the United States, The Sea debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 53,000 copies in its first week.[34] It fell to number 23 and sold 25,000 more copies in its second week on the chart.[35] The album also entered at number two on Billboard '​s R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and at number three on its Digital Albums chart in the week of 13 February 2010.[36][37]

In Canada, the album debuted at number 13 on the Top 100 Albums chart in the week ending 4 February 2010.[38] It entered at number 36 in the Netherlands and at number 33 in Ireland.[39] On 19 February 2010, the album was certified gold in sales by the British Phonographic Industry, following shipments in excess of 100,000 copies in the UK.[40] As of April 2010, it has sold 156,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[41]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[42]
Entertainment Weekly B+[43]
The Daily Telegraph 4/5 stars[44]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[45]
The Independent 4/5 stars[46]
Los Angeles Times 4/4 stars[9]
Q 4/5 stars[47]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[48]
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars[49]
Spin 6/10[50]

The Sea received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 78, based on 21 reviews.[51] Allmusic's David Jeffries called it "a testament to Rae's artistic growth".[42] Kitty Empire of The Observer found the album "saturated in feeling and graced by superior musicianship", writing that Rae's songwriting and singing have "acquired reflective, ghostly soul".[52] Boston Herald critic Jed Gottlieb called it a "soulful record that recalls Carole King as much as Aretha".[53] Rob Watson of musicOMH gave it four-and-a-half out of five stars and called it "a dense, lush and muti-faceted record, with Rae's melodic sensibilities mixing with much darker jazz and rock influences, and her carefree spirit tempered with a much more meditative approach".[54] Alastair McKay of Uncut stated, "[Rae] has taken on board the way Nina Simone could flick a switch between absent-minded harmonising and entering the abyss".[55]

Craig McLean of The Daily Telegraph called it "the intense and moving result" of Rae's hiatus and described it as "an album that suggests Nina Simone singing a modern version of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks".[56] Steve Leftridge of PopMatters found it "richer" than her debut, with a "darker and more sophisticated sonic palette", stating "The Sea often captures the debut's languorous delivery, yet the adult-contemporary coffee-house vibe has given way to deeper grooves, sonorous landscapes, and contemplative, poetic imagery".[57] Q stated, "It's to Bailey Rae's credit that never for one second does the album feel exploitative or mawkish, just truthful and real."[47] Los Angeles Times writer Ann Powers stated "The Sea is a remarkable accomplishment. It's a step toward something—Rae's inner peace, and her next artistic breakthrough—that has its own considerable rewards".[9]

In a mixed review, Slant Magazine's Nick Day found it "simultaneously intimate and frustratingly opaque", and its music "unmemorable".[49] Hot Press writer Patrick Freyne panned the session musicians' contributions and "excessive tastefulness" to the album, writing that "the record is elsewhere over-run with session musicians. Technically proficient but too often unburdened by human souls, session musicians spent much of the twentieth century digesting the 'hard bits’ of pop before regurgitating it all in music that didn't need hard bits in the first place."[58] The Observer '​s Graeme Thompson wrote that the album "is capable of being dull and flat, but at its most winning it provides glimpses of a new horizon shining beyond the riptides of pain and sorrow".[59] The Sea was nominated for the 2010 Mercury Prize, which is awarded annually for the best album in the UK or Ireland.[60]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Are You Here"   Corinne Bailey Rae 4:13
2. "I'd Do It All Again"   Rae 3:08
3. "Feels Like the First Time"   Rae, Steve Brown 3:13
4. "The Blackest Lily"   Rae 3:38
5. "Closer"   Rae 4:17
6. "Love's on Its Way"   Rae 3:55
7. "I Would Like to Call It Beauty"   Rae, Philip Rae 4:19
8. "Paris Nights/New York Mornings"   Rae 3:51
9. "Paper Dolls"   Rae 3:20
10. "Diving for Hearts"   Rae, Jennifer Birch 4:51
11. "The Sea"   Rae 4:05


Credits for The Sea adapted from Allmusic.[61]

  • Steve Brown – co-producer
  • Steve Chrisanthou – co-producer
  • Rob Cremona – additional guitars and keyboards
  • Alex Cowper – artwork, design
  • Tom Elmhirst – mixing
  • Tierney Gearon – photography
  • Corinne Bailey Rae – producer
  • Ray Staff – mastering
  • Xavier Stephenson – mixing assistant


Release history[edit]

Region Date Label
Japan 20 January 2010[10] EMI Music Japan
United States 26 January 2010[11] Capitol
United Kingdom 1 February 2010[12] EMI
Brazil 15 February 2010[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Album review: Corinne Bailey Rae". The Scotsman (Dublin). 31 January 2010. Archived from the original on 16 March 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Labate, Steve (29 January 2010). "Corinne Bailey Rae: The Sea". Paste (Decatur). Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Press release. "Corinne Bailey Rae: new album 'The Sea' released Feb 1st on Good Groove/Virgin Records". EMI. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g O'Hagan, Sean. Corinne Bailey Rae: 'It happened to me. It could happen to anyone at any time'. The Observer. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  5. ^ a b c Maerz, Melissa. After a Death, Embracing Life’s Diversity. The New York Times. Retrieved on 6 February 2010.
  6. ^ a b Lewis, Pete. Everythings Corinne Up Smelling of Roses. Blues & Soul. Retrieved on 22 March 2010.
  7. ^ Columnist. Corinne Bailey Rae Releases New Album Details. NME. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  8. ^ "Ways to say goodbye". The Independent (London). 27 November 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c Powers, Ann. Review: The Sea. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 27 January 2010.
  10. ^ a b DISCOGRAPHY / コリーヌ・ベイリー・レイ :: Corinne Bailey Rae. EMI Music Japan. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  11. ^ a b c Columnist. "Grammy Winner Corinne Bailey Rae's 'The Sea' Set For Jan. 26 Release". StarPulse. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  12. ^ a b Columnist. This Week's New Music Releases: 1 February 2010. NME. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  13. ^ a b Product Page: The Sea. Livraria Cultura. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  14. ^ Product Page: Q magazine. GreatMagazines/Bauer Media. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  15. ^ a b Sutherland, Mark. Corinne Bailey Rae, The Tabernacle, London. The Independent. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  16. ^ Columnist. Review: Corinne Bailey Rae at The Tabernacle. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  17. ^ Empire, Kitty. Corinne Bailey Rae: Tabernacle, London. The Observer. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  18. ^ Pearson, Nick. Corinne Bailey Rae Puts Her Impressive New Records On. Evening Standard. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  19. ^ a b Caramanica, Jon. Lite Soul in Search of Some Calories. The New York Times. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  20. ^ Corinne Bailey Rae at Joe's Pub. Gotham Jazz. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  21. ^ a b Corinne Bailey Rae Drafts Merriweather For 'Sea' Tour. Singersroom. Retrieved on 7 March 2010.
  22. ^ Billboard Singles: The Sea. Allmusic. Retrieved on 18 April 2010.
  23. ^ – New single news and Glastonbury festival Retrieved on 16 July 2010
  24. ^ Chart History: 'Paris Nights/New York Mornings'. Billboard. Retrieved on 18 April 2010.
  25. ^ Weston, Alonzo. Grammy winner Corinne Bailey Rae launched new album, The Sea, with 5 national television appearances. The News-Press. Retrieved on 18 April 2010.
  26. ^ Chart History – Corinne Baily Rae: R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Billboard. Retrieved on 18 April 2010.
  27. ^ Chart History – Corinne Baily Rae: Jazz Songs. Billboard. Retrieved on 18 April 2010.
  28. ^ – Watch 'Closer' video now Retrieved on 16 July 2010
  29. ^ Corinne Bailey Rae choisit "Closer" Retrieved on 16 July 2010
  30. ^ UK Forthcoming Singles – 2 August 2010. Radio 1. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  31. ^ a b The Official UK Albums Archive: 13 February 2010). The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  32. ^ admn. Lighters In The Air, Everybody Say Yeah. WotYouGot. Retrieved on 22 March 2010.
  33. ^ Wightman, Catriona. Alicia Keys Stays Top of UK Album Chart. Digital Spy. Retrieved on 15 February 2010.
  34. ^ a b Caulfield, Keith. Lady Antebellum's 'Need You Now' Hits No. 1 On Billboard 200. Billboard. Retrieved on 3 February 2010.
  35. ^ Kaufman, Gil. Lil Wayne's Rebirth Is No Match For Lady Antebellum. MTV. Retrieved on 17 April 2010.
  36. ^ a b R&B/Hip-Hop Albums: Week of 13 February 2010. Billboard. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  37. ^ a b Digital Albums: Week of 13 February 2010. Billboard. Retrieved on 7 January 2010.
  38. ^ a b Nielsen SoundScan Charts – Albums: Top 100 (For the Week Ending 4 February 2010). Jam!. Retrieved on 8 February 2010.
  39. ^ a b c d e f Music Charts: Corinne Bailey Rae – The Sea. acharts. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  40. ^ Certified Awards Search: The Sea. British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved on 22 March 2010.
  41. ^ Shriver, Jerry. Corinne Bailey Rae Confronts Life's Pain in 'The Sea'. USA Today. Retrieved on 17 April 2010.
  42. ^ a b Jeffries, David. Review: The Sea. Allmusic. Retrieved on 27 January 2010.
  43. ^ Vozick-Levinson, Simon. Review: The Sea. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 27 January 2010.
  44. ^ Brown, Helen. Review: The Sea. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 29 January 2010.
  45. ^ Sullivan, Caroline. Review: The Sea. The Guardian. Retrieved on 28 January 2010.
  46. ^ Gill, Andy. Review: The Sea. The Independent. Retrieved on 28 January 2010.
  47. ^ a b "Review: The Sea". Q (London): 94. March 2010. 
  48. ^ Hermes, Will. Review: The Sea. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 1 February 2010.
  49. ^ a b Day, Nick. Review: The Sea. Slant Magazine. Retrieved on 27 January 2010.
  50. ^ Wood, Mikael. Review: The Sea. Spin. Retrieved on 28 January 2010.
  51. ^ The Sea (2010): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 28 January 2010.
  52. ^ Empire, Kitty. Review: The Sea. The Observer. Retrieved on 30 January 2010.
  53. ^ Gottlieb, Jed. Review: The Sea. Boston Herald. Retrieved on 30 January 2010.
  54. ^ Watson, Rob. Review: The Sea. musicOMH. Retrieved on 27 January 2010.
  55. ^ McKay, Alastair. Review: The Sea. Uncut. Retrieved on 3 February 2010.
  56. ^ McLean, Craig. Corinne Bailey Rae interview for The Sea. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 29 January 2010.
  57. ^ Leftridge, Steve. Review: The Sea. PopMatters. Retrieved on 24 February 2010.
  58. ^ Freyne, Patrick. "Review: The Sea". Hot Press: 20 January 2010.
  59. ^ Thompson, Graeme. Review: The Sea. The Observer. Retrieved on 27 January 2010.
  60. ^ Jonze, Tim. Mercury prize 2010: Dizzee Rascal and the xx lead nominations. The Guardian. Retrieved on 23 July 2010.
  61. ^ Credits: The Sea. Allmusic. Retrieved on 27 January 2010.
  62. ^ FIMI/GfK Music Charts. Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved on 11 February 2010.
  63. ^ "End of Year Charts: 2010". UKChartsPlus. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  64. ^ "Best of 2010 – Billboard Top 200". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 

External links[edit]