Corinne Bailey Rae

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In 2006 Corinne Bailey Rae released her self-titled debut album, a record she had recorded on a shoestring budget while still unsigned. An early appearance on BBC2’s Later With Jools Holland and some intimate gigs around the UK had already started a word-of-mouth buzz leading her to be tipped as the next big thing. But the success of that album was instant and immense.

Debuting at Number One in the UK, featuring hit singles such as ‘Put Your Records On’ and ‘Like A Star’, becoming a smash-hit around the world, and crashing straight into the Billboard Top 20 in the US – the first British female singer-songwriter to do so in decades – meant Bailey Rae gained a huge global audience within months.

And now, four years and four-million album sales later, comes the long-awaited second album. For the 30-year-old singer and songwriter from Leeds, this meant politely declining the suggestions that she work with this or that big-league producer in this or that big-money studio.

It meant co-producing the album herself with friends and musicians she had worked with in the past to retain intimacy and control, shrugging off the huge, worldwide expectations engendered by the self-titled debut and refusing to be bedazzled by that album’s multiple Grammy and Brit Award nominations.

It also meant embracing the pain she’d experienced and finally, ultimately, this meant The Sea, a collection of songs about grief and hope, despair and inspiration, loss and love. “I wanted to be open,” explains Corinne. “I’m really aware that I can’t hide any of my feelings. With music I feel like it’s the one time when I don’t have to think and I don’t have to contrive anything. So that’s how this record turned out. It’s not contrived. It’s just open.”