The soulful, dreamy and often jazzy singer-songwriter from Leeds, Corinne Bailey Rae, returns after a two-year hiatus with a more soulful voice and another winner.
The Sea opens with Are You Here, a song of mournful lyrics and heavy of heart which she wrote after the loss of her husband. I'd Do It All Again then puts her soul on display and is heartbreakingly beautiful.
With the first two tracks setting up what appears to be a crushing tone, the next three songs - especially Closer - surprise with their funky, upbeat arrangements.
After a couple of stronger tunes comes I Would Like To Call It Beauty, a song inspired by a night of reminiscence with her late husband's brother. It is a simple, acoustic delight and a great breather after the run of uptempo numbers.
The tempo picks up again with Paris Nights/New York Mornings, the most cheering song of the album. It's reminiscent of the oozing playfulness on her debut album. The album ends suitably with The Sea, a bittersweet lament which lets Rae show off her butter-smooth vocals.
The album confirms Rae's maturity as a singer-songwriter, despite the sadness of recent years, and is a package of emotional songs you'll want to play over and over again.
YP rating: 5/5