Corinne Bailey Rae – The Love EP | Review

Leeds hailing, internationally acclaimed songstress Corinne Bailey Rae hits us with a little something to keep the fans happy before she gears up for her next album after her critically acclaimed sophomore, The Sea. Aptly titled for its digital-only release on St. Valentine’s Day, The Love EP is a collection of covers she recorded whilst touring in support of The Sea. I had a listen to what it had to offer us…

Corinne opens with the very daring attempt at covering the Prince classic ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover.’ Prince apparently inspired her after she met him at his London O2 residency. Corinne does well on this track, lending her own style to an already heavily Prince styled song. In essence the groove and synth stabs of the original remain very much intact and the end sounds like a funky jam that is just about to turn into a Chaka Khan song. Although I’m not blown away by it, I respect artists who take risks to cover songs by huge artists and still manage to add their own flavour.

Corinne Bailey Rae – “I Wanna Be Your Lover”:

‘Low Red Moon,’ originally by Belly, is next on the playlist. I’m not gonna pretend I’m familiar with the original, though Corinne comments that they were a huge influence on her first band Helen. This kind of eerie rock is something quite far removed from what we’re used to hearing from Corinne Bailey Rae’s more usual acoustic, floaty sound, however her voice seems to compliment the instrumentation well and in particular the melody sounds like it was written for her voice.

Corinne goes for another monster track in the form of Bob Marley’s ‘Is This Love?’ What I love about her version is that she switches up the time signature and gives the song a whole new flavour. It retains all the relaxed vibe of the original, adds dynamic through the choice of instrumentation and once again Corinne manages to stamp her own mark via her distinctive vocals. I am hugely fond of her song choice and interpretation on this occasion.

‘My Love,’ a Paul McCartney cover, is a great choice of song and the melody and harmony of this song seem to suit Corinne perfectly. The song includes a few synth lines reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s earlier work. Add to this the drums at the end of the track and you have Corinne fluttering around in Stevie Wonder territory, no surprise as she spent a while living with him after the death of her husband and has probably been a fan forever. Although the song itself isn’t quite as powerful or epic as any Stevie song of the era, it portrays Corinne’s very sweet and light style very well. Another strong outing.

Corinne closes proceedings with ‘Que Sera Sera’ a cover of the Doris Day classic, which is actually closer to the Sly and The Family Stone version. Once again, Corinne plays around with the timing of original and brings in instrumentation very reminiscent of Aretha Franklin, with her vocal blues licks adding to the vibe. Once again, the arrangement plays with dynamics and explores other possibilities of the original in it’s jam style ending. In parts I feel that its 13 minute length is not really hugely justifiable on record, however as it is a live recording I’ll allow it on this occasion. John McCallum’s vocal contribution is notable also, bringing a real old school vibe via his throaty bluesy-soul inflections.

Having had the pleasure of seeing Corinne and band live whilst I was studying in Leeds they performed endless covers, so this project was really always on the cards. Over the course of the five tracks, I think that Corinne was experimental however on the whole managed to bend the songs to fit around her style. More of a hit than a miss, I’m glad to see that she went for a few big numbers by big artists and came up smelling of roses. It’s refreshing to know that an artist like Corinne Bailey Rae is not resting on the laurels of her incredible success and isn’t afraid to take risks, explore and push herself as artist and pays homage and respects much of the music that acted as her inspiration.

The Love EP comes out on Monday Feb 14th via Good Groove/Virgin Records.