Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Corinne Bailey Rae – I’d Do It All Again

Six songs in, it’s our first one from Leeeeeeeds…


Alfred Soto: She’d do what all over again?

Martin Kavka: In the press for this album, Rae has stated that this is not a song about her state of mind after the death of her husband. Rather, it’s about her decision to persevere in the relationship after they had an awful fight, and her belief that the heights of love outweigh any and all pain. I almost believe her. When she repeats the title phrase, the production envelops her, she seems to be in a trance-like state of joy, and that joy is infectious; for a brief moment the force of her will transforms widowhood into beatitude. However, in the last thirty seconds everything disappears except for her voice and her guitar, as she reminds her husband that he’s “searching for something I know won’t make you happy.” The pain cannot but return, perhaps more sharply than before. I’m in awe of the emotional roller-coaster of the song, yet I look forward to the day when Rae falls in love again and retires this song from her setlist.

Anthony Easton: Knowing the story makes one a little angry, but on hearing the song the complete sublimation of self into desire, into the openness of a heart when all good and common sense would suggest that the heart should be tightly closed no longer seems deluded or foolish but decimating in how proper and right the course of action seems.

Anthony Miccio: No amount of backstory can seem to keep her voice from receding into the background.

Alex Ostroff: I can appreciate her technique, especially the way she exquisitely bends the blue notes, and the texture of her voice. But the whole thing is so languid, and drifts along, “so weary” that all of a sudden the song is over and I’m left wondering where it went. There are some wonderful phrases here, both lyrically and vocally, but it never moves me the way I wish it would.

Martin Skidmore: The diffidence alone makes this far preferable to her irritating huge hit. It’s neo-soul, and her voice is pleasant enough, but possibly too weak to carry the emotions the song wants. I like the quiet backing well enough, and it’s all okay, but it’s far too easy to ignore.

Doug Robertson: CBR, as she’s never called, is clearly still more than happy to stay right in the middle of the road, where there’s nothing to distract or entertain, just the consistency of the cats eyes flashing past again and again and again and again and…

Mallory O’Donnell: Corinne Bailey Rae’s voice is a thrilling, compelling thing – almost uncanny in its ability to navigate between dramatic exterior shots and warmly-lit interior ones. The problem with her performances is that she utilizes this gift to the point of exhaustion. Combined with her predilection for MOR schlock and NPR soul, the result is nearly always a song that becomes baroque in its’ own self-absorption. Luckily, there’s a huge target audience for this sort of thing, giving us hope that she’ll stick around long enough to sing something actually worth hearing.

John Seroff: I can’t say I ever studied Corinne Bailey Rae; the songs off her eponymous 2007 album struck me as pretty, lightly unctuous, on the verge of cloying and not particularly memorable. Nothing prior had prepared me for the clarity and honesty on display in “I’d Do It All Again”. The song is gentle but terribly sad; shades of an Astrud Gilberto quaver, the directness of Sade, the fatalism of an Amy Winehouse heartbreak. “All Again” is a craftsman’s ballad: solidly built and adorned with skilfully personal touches. You can’t help but hear the maturation and tight-lipped wisdom in Bailey Rae’s voice; there’s pride, restraint and strength here, qualities I’d love to hear more from women in pop. It’s a young year, but “All Again” is one of the kindest songs that 2010’s given me so far.

Matt Cibula: I’m afraid that most of us won’t have the time for this slow-burning piece, and it does start off a little snoozy. But have patience, you crazy pop people — it bursts into something wonderful. Dammit, now I’m going to have to take the lovely CBR seriously as an artist.

Iain Mew: Sounds on the most surface of levels just like the pleasant smooth soul of before, but you barely have to scratch that to get to the utter bleakness beneath. Desperate flash of steel in the title phrase aside, there’s barely any light here at all. As wallowing in sadness goes, though, this is an excellent way to do it, not least to marvel at Corinne’s voice. It was always impressive but never deployed in nearly so quietly powerful a way before.

Tom Ewing: Even aside from the personal tragedy that’ll be the record’s number one angle, I wonder if not making much of a smash freed her up to do somewhat more intriguing stuff. This single won’t do anything to alienate the coffee-table crowd but it does its mood-building and peaking thing with a sureness and sophistication which surprises and disarms me a bit.

Edward Okulicz: There’s an interesting tension here, in the way she’s trying to do a sort of personality-defining mini-epic about something profoundly personal, and her clearly unerring radio pop instincts. You can hear the latter in how the song is still playlist-appealingly short, and how it sticks in the melancholy before it gets a chance to be truly wrenching, but overall, she’s showing a lot more presence and (no sarcasm here) soul than before, and hints at some really brilliant records to come from her in the future. Not yet, but this one’s good.

3 Responses to “Corinne Bailey Rae – I’d Do It All Again”

  1. Controversy time once again — Corrine is our first qualifier! Reminder of last year’s most controversial ten:

    1. Das Racist – Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell (Wallpaper. remix)
    2. Christina Milian – Chameleon
    3. Blackout Crew – Dialled
    4. La Roux – In for the Kill
    5. Demi Lovato – Don’t Forget
    6. Electrik Red – So Good
    7. Aqua – Back to the 80’s
    8. Lily Allen – Not Fair
    9. Lil’ Wayne – Hot Revolver
    10. Girls – Laura

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