Corinne Bailey Rae's deep, dark Sea

Taking a darker tone, British songstress comes to Rams Head Live this weekend

May 14, 2010|By Sam Sessa, The Baltimore Sun

British songstress Corinne Bailey Rae burst into the pop charts like a bright ray of sunshine with her breezy 2006 single "Put Your Records On." Her self-titled debut, which featured the song, would go on to sell millions in the U.S.

Rae's latest album, "The Sea," is a complete about-face, filled with darker, more complicated songs and imagery. In 2008, Rae's husband, Jason, died of an accidental overdose of methadone and alcohol. Rae withdrew from songwriting and performing for about a year, before re-emerging to finish "The Sea," which was released in January. Friday, she comes to Rams Head Live.

On 'The Sea'

"Most of the songs I wrote before it happened. They sound different from this side of the event, but they were written before it.

"I don't really feel like the record is so much about pain, because I think at this point it's not something I can make into art. I don't have the facility. I didn't think that's what I was expressing on the record. The only two songs I've written on the record about this period — my most recent experiences — are "Are You Here" and "I Would Like to Call it Beauty." They don't feel to me to be particularly about pain. They're thinking songs."

On the sea as inspiration

"It has a mixture of meanings, and I feel like I explored them on the record. On the one hand, the sea is a place of escape and fun and relaxation and holidays. On the other hand, it's something to be afraid of. It's a massive, awesome presence.

"I thought it's a good image for life — the way it can be incredibly calm and incredibly tumultuous, but all of it is a caricature of itself. It's a good image for love, because it's a thing you can't fight. I have a complicated relationship with the sea, I guess."

On performing

"The great thing about playing live is you can make everything more extreme. Everything can be stretched out. Things get more drawn out, get heavier. The intimate songs get more intimate; the fun songs become more of a party. I feel like there's this loosening that happens as people grow in confidence and also respond to an audience. You see if they're enjoying it and where you would want to go together. That affects the songs as well."

On Frida Kahlo's paintings

"She used her artistry to express her own pain. I find it incredible when people can voice their experience and make art from their experience. There are some really startling paintings she's made. Some of them are about her own physical pain because she had this accident, a broken spine and she's in and out of the hospital her whole life. I just thought they were amazingly honest paintings."

Corinne Bailey Rae performs Friday May 14 at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $27.50. Call 410-244-1131 or go to ramsheadlive.com.

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