If you were not familiar with Corinne Bailey Rae before, perhaps now you have reason to be. After all, an album like Black Rainbows only comes around once in a while, and when it does, it demands to be listened to.
The English singer-songwriter first hit her stride in the 2000’s before releasing her eponymous debut LP in 2006. Since then she has released a string of records every handful of years, but nothing as comprehensive and as artistically intentful as we now hear on Black Rainbows. Though it represents somewhat of a departure from her signature downtempo, neo-soul, chamber-jazz soundworld, this album exemplifies Rae’s artistic evolution not only in terms of her songwriting prowess but also her command over production.
With « Black Rainbows, » Rae seems to be channelling an artistic aesthetic reminiscent of Björk and Thom Yorke, using the studio as much as an instrument as she does her voice. While the album may not introduce a groundbreaking, never-before-heard sound, it radiates an unmistakable and deeply personal essence. Rae’s use of the studio serves as a conduit through which she explores themes related to blackness (“Black Rainbows »), femininity (“He Will Follow You with His Eyes » ), and a profound reflection on the world’s present state (“Earthlings »).
Threads of conceptual depth run through the heart of « Black Rainbows, » weaving together a rich tapestry of musical influences that span a dizzying amount of ground across rock, jazz, pop, and electronic genres. There’s a palpable sense of rebelliousness that infuses each track, challenging conventions and inviting listeners to join Rae in questioning the status quo. You need only listen to “Erasure” or “New York Transit Queen” to know that she means business. Still, there is levity in the picture, and it’s clear that Rae is having fun in the studio as she treads new ground. At times comparisons to Thundercat and Flying Lotus seem meritable, at times comparisons to Joni Mitchell and Sonic Youth. At the very least you ought to be intrigued.