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The Sea (Corinne Bailey Rae album)

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The Sea
A woman in a white dress laying on white sheets in a day-lit forest
Studio album by Corinne Bailey Rae
Released 20 January 2010 (2010-01-20)
Recorded 2009
Studio Limefield Studios in Manchester
Genre Soul, R&B, pop rock
Length 42:46
Label EMI
Producer Corinne Baily Rae, James Poyser, Questlove, Steve Brown, Steve Chrisanthou
Corinne Bailey Rae chronology
Live in London & New York
The Sea
The Love EP
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. It was released on 20 January 2010 by EMI as the follow-up to her eponymous 2006 debut. The album was conceived following her hiatus from recording, taken in the wake of her husband Jason Rae's death. She recorded The Sea at Limefield Studios 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.

In the United Kingdom, 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 reached sales of 156,000 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 recording[edit]

Following the multi-platinum and award-winning success of her eponymous debut album in 2006, Corinne Bailey Rae began to work on songs for a follow-up album at the end of 2007.[1] She took a hiatus from music, however, after 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 in 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:

"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."[2]

Rae recorded most of The Sea in 2009 at Manchester's Limefield Studios.[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 the 1973 Sly & the Family Stone record Fresh and Curtis Mayfield's There's No Place Like America Today (1975), 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 though 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 reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
AnyDecentMusic? 7.2/10[10]
Metacritic 78/100[11]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[12]
The Daily Telegraph 4/5 stars[13]
Entertainment Weekly B+[14]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[15]
The Independent 4/5 stars[16]
Los Angeles Times 4/4 stars[17]
Q 4/5 stars[18]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[19]
Spin 6/10[20]
The Times 3/5 stars[21]

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.[22] She also showcased its songs on 7 December at New York City's Hiro Ballroom,[23] which was recorded for the public television series Live from the Artists Den.[23] 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:[24] "I'd Do It All Again" on 12 January,[25] "Paris Nights/New York Mornings" on 29 March,[26] and "Closer" on 2 August.[27] 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]

When The Sea was released in 2010, it debuted at number five on the UK Albums Chart,[28] and number seven on the Billboard 200 in the US, where it sold 53,000 copies in its first week.[29] On 19 February, the album was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI),[30] and by April, it had sold 156,000 copies in the US, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[31] 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;[32] the tour began its North American leg on 9 April.[32]

The Sea received generally positive reviews from critics. 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.[11] AllMusic's David Jeffries called it "a testament to Rae's artistic growth",[12] and Kitty Empire from The Observer found it "saturated in feeling and graced by superior musicianship".[33] Steve Leftridge of PopMatters said it was "richer" than her debut, with a "darker and more sophisticated sonic palette".[34] Q credited Rae for making the album never sound "exploitative or mawkish, just truthful and real".[18] 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".[17] In a less enthusiastic review, The Observer's Graeme Thompson felt the album's strong points offered "glimpses of a new horizon shining beyond the riptides of pain and sorrow", but at times it sounded "dull and flat".[35] Slant Magazine's Nick Day was more critical, finding the music forgettable and the lyrics introspective but vague.[36] Hot Press critic Patrick Freyne believed the music exhibited an "excessive tastefulness" while panning the contributions of the session musicians, whom he said were "technically proficient" but sounded soulless.[37]

At the end of 2010, The Sea was named the year's best album by The Guardian's Caroline Sullivan,[38] while Powers ranked it ninth on her year-end list of 2010's best albums.[39] 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 2009 album.[40]

Track listing[edit]

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


Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[42]


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2010) Peak
American Albums Chart[29] 7
American R&B Albums Chart[43] 2
Belgian Albums Chart[44] 43
British Albums Chart[28] 5
Canadian Albums Chart[45] 13
Dutch Albums Chart[44] 36
Irish Albums Chart[44] 33
Italian Album Chart[46] 73
Japanese Albums Chart[47] 33
Spanish Albums Chart[44] 48
Swiss Albums Chart[44] 27

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2010) Position
American Albums Chart[48] 179
British Albums Chart[49] 146

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label
Japan 20 January 2010[50] EMI Music Japan
United States 26 January 2010[25] Capitol
United Kingdom 1 February 2010[51] EMI


  1. ^ a b c Press release. "Corinne Bailey Rae: new album 'The Sea' released Feb 1st on Good Groove/Virgin Records". EMI. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ a b Maerz, Melissa. After a Death, Embracing Life’s Diversity. The New York Times. Retrieved on 6 February 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Herrera, Monica (11 January 2010). "Corinne Bailey Rae: The Billboard Cover Story". Billboard. Retrieved 31 May 2016. 
  5. ^ Columnist. Corinne Bailey Rae Releases New Album Details. NME. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  6. ^ Lewis, Pete. Everythings Corinne Up Smelling of Roses. Blues & Soul. Retrieved on 22 March 2010.
  7. ^ "Ways to say goodbye". The Independent. London. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  8. ^ Labate, Steve (29 January 2010). "Corinne Bailey Rae: The Sea". Paste. Decatur. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  9. ^ McLean, Craig. Corinne Bailey Rae interview for The Sea. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 29 January 2010.
  10. ^ "The Sea by Corinne Bailey Rae reviews". Any Decent Music. Retrieved 2 November 2016. 
  11. ^ a b The Sea (2010): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 28 January 2010.
  12. ^ a b Jeffries, David. Review: The Sea. Allmusic. Retrieved on 27 January 2010.
  13. ^ Brown, Helen. Review: The Sea. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 29 January 2010.
  14. ^ Vozick-Levinson, Simon. Review: The Sea. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 27 January 2010.
  15. ^ Sullivan, Caroline. Review: The Sea. The Guardian. Retrieved on 28 January 2010.
  16. ^ Gill, Andy. Review: The Sea. The Independent. Retrieved on 28 January 2010.
  17. ^ a b Powers, Ann. Review: The Sea. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 27 January 2010.
  18. ^ a b "Review: The Sea". Q. London: 94. March 2010. 
  19. ^ Hermes, Will. Review: The Sea. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 1 February 2010.
  20. ^ Wood, Mikael. Review: The Sea. Spin. Retrieved on 28 January 2010.
  21. ^ Potton, Ed (30 January 2010). "Corinne Bailey Rae: The Sea". The Times. Retrieved 30 September 2016.  (subscription required)
  22. ^ Sutherland, Mark. Corinne Bailey Rae, The Tabernacle, London. The Independent. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  23. ^ a b Caramanica, Jon. Lite Soul in Search of Some Calories. The New York Times. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  24. ^ Billboard Singles: The Sea. Allmusic. Retrieved on 18 April 2010.
  25. ^ a b Columnist. "Grammy Winner Corinne Bailey Rae's 'The Sea' Set For Jan. 26 Release". StarPulse. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  26. ^ – New single news and Glastonbury festival Retrieved on 16 July 2010
  27. ^ UK Forthcoming Singles – 2 August 2010. Radio 1. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  28. ^ a b The Official UK Albums Archive: 13 February 2010). The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  29. ^ a b Caulfield, Keith. Lady Antebellum's 'Need You Now' Hits No. 1 On Billboard 200. Billboard. Retrieved on 3 February 2010.
  30. ^ Certified Awards Search: The Sea Archived 14 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved on 22 March 2010.
  31. ^ Shriver, Jerry. Corinne Bailey Rae Confronts Life's Pain in 'The Sea'. USA Today. Retrieved on 17 April 2010.
  32. ^ a b Corinne Bailey Rae Drafts Merriweather For 'Sea' Tour. Singersroom. Retrieved on 7 March 2010.
  33. ^ Empire, Kitty. Review: The Sea. The Observer. Retrieved on 30 January 2010.
  34. ^ Leftridge, Steve. Review: The Sea. PopMatters. Retrieved on 24 February 2010.
  35. ^ Thompson, Graeme. Review: The Sea. The Observer. Retrieved on 27 January 2010.
  36. ^ Day, Nick. Review: The Sea. Slant Magazine. Retrieved on 27 January 2010.
  37. ^ Freyne, Patrick. "Review: The Sea". Hot Press: 20 January 2010.
  38. ^ "Albums of 2010: How Guardian music critics voted". The Guardian. 11 December 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2016. 
  39. ^ "2010 Music Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. 6 December 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2016. 
  40. ^ "The xx beat Dizzee Rascal and Paul Weller to take Mercury Prize". The Daily Telegraph. 8 September 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2016. 
  41. ^ Anon. (2010). The Sea (Japan CD liner notes). Corinne Bailey Rae. Virgin Records. TOCP-66930. 
  42. ^ Anon. (2009). The Sea (CD liner notes). Corinne Bailey Rae. Capitol Records. 5099960937827. 
  43. ^ R&B/Hip-Hop Albums: Week of 13 February 2010. Billboard. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  44. ^ a b c d e Corinne Bailey Rae – The Sea. Hung Medien. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  45. ^ Nielsen SoundScan Charts – Albums: Top 100 (For the Week Ending 4 February 2010). Jam!. Retrieved on 8 February 2010.
  46. ^ FIMI/GfK Music Charts Archived 29 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine.. Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved on 11 February 2010.
  47. ^ "あの日の海 | Corinne Bailey Rae | ORICON STYLE" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 5 August 2015. 
  48. ^ "Best of 2010 – Billboard Top 200". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  49. ^ "End of Year Charts: 2010" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  50. ^ DISCOGRAPHY / コリーヌ・ベイリー・レイ :: Corinne Bailey Rae. EMI Music Japan. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  51. ^ Columnist. This Week's New Music Releases: 1 February 2010. NME. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]