Corinne Bailey Rae The Sea

When news of her late husband's passing broke a couple years back, many fans no doubt wondered in what shape soul pop revelation Corinne Bailey Rae would return. But while new disc The Sea deals extensively with grief, particularly in songs like the album's resolute title track, or the ethereal "I Would Like To Call It Beauty," its continually shifting source helps to broaden the record's thematic study. Rae spends much of the disc walking the line between the soul imbued in her delicate voice and the regrettable ultra-pop leanings of some of her compositions. And for the most part, she stays on the right side of the ledger. With a reserved blend of organ, strings and her light guitar touches, she succeeds on cuts like the funky "Feels Like The First Time," the slinky "Closer" and even the more upbeat, radio-focused "Paris Nights." These tunes offer enough to vanquish over-the-top missteps like "Paper Dolls" while providing clear evidence that the goodness carved out on her debut hasn't been lost. (EMI)