Written by Daniel Barker
Aug 15, 2010 at 08:00 PM
ImageThe month of August brought many a woman musician to Houston for some particular reason but the one at the top of my must-see list was British crossover doll, Corinne Bailey Rae – an event which almost never happened. Scheduled to perform this same month in The Woodlands at the 2010 Lilith Fair tour, CBR’s PR staff made a great audible by booking The House of Blues when Lilith went hairy legs up due to horrendous ticket sales across the country.  I don’t know what that is all about but it proved to be the perfect move for CBR when I arrived to a sold out show on Sunday night August 15th, 2010. The SRO summit reached by many a last minute walk up being persuaded by other local press calling this show a “To Do” for the weekend.  Corinne Bailey Rae and her band make it easy to look like a genius by consistently delivering solid sets of sexy smooth sounds.

With her Grammy nominated self-titled debut release 4 years ago, Bailey Rae has not been on the scene that long but has made quite a stir, not only in the eyes of fans but critics alike. By laying down a remarkable voice swimming inside a funky sea soundtrack, that first album brought her into the spotlight. A female co-worker whose taste in music impressed me gave me the disc to burn with a wink so I gave it a shot and it stuck. It continues to find its way into my work rotation time after time because the depth of the album is rich. The influences that CBR names are from all genres and it reflects directly in her music and after her performance on Austin City Limits including a “burn the house down” rendition of fellow Brits Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You” it is proven that she can pull it off live, under pressure and with a smile to boot. This is a lady that won 2 Grammys working with the legendary Herbie Hancock on “River: The Joni Letters” where she appeared as a featured artist.

The touring group this night consisted of Lead vocalist; guitar: Corinne Bailey Rae; Musical director/keyboardist: Steve Brown; Drummer/backing vocalist: Luke Flowers; Guitarist/backing vocalist: John McCallum; Bassist: Kenny Higgins; Guitarist/backing vocalist: Jennifer Birch. An eclectic group that easily flows from Bob Marley reggae to Lenny Kravitz funk to Dick Dale’s surf rock tighter than the epic purple jumpsuit CBR was wearing on stage. I will say that this girl is tiny but what a large wig and voice she has been gifted with. I mean these are not easy songs to sing for anyone and she hit every note.

The crowd was mainly well dressed couples acting in a way that made you feel like they had made a night of it, if not a whole day starting at one church singing with a choir to ending up singing along with a different congregation altogether. CBR pulled material from both her albums beginning mainly with tracks from her sophomore release earlier this year, “The Sea”. You may ask, “Why so long between albums?” I came to find out doing research for this review that her husband of 7 years, Jason Rae, had died from an overdose in 2008. An obvious distraction from recording but one which proved inspirational and influential in the very personal feeling of the record.  “Closer”, “Paris Nights_New York Mornings”, and “Are You Here?” were standouts.

ImageAs the night went on CBR’s voice got stronger to “bring it” to the packed house with the songs that made everyone take a second to ask questions several years ago. “Put You Records On”, “Trouble Sleeping”, “I’d Like To” and a solo acoustic version of “Like A Star”. The night was a classy one with many songs that you might hear in an elevator or on hold music throughout your life in the last 4 years. Please do not let that discourage you from diving deep into the sea that is Corinne Bailey Rae. If she can steer clear of the off stage show stoppers she will have a future as bright as her smile. Until next time, I will see you out supporting live music.