Photographer: Ross Shields.
The debut, full-length solo album from British chanteuse Rae Morris, 2015's Unguarded provides a great showcase for the Lancashire-born artist's absorbing, hypnotic pop. The album comes on the heels of a string of successful EPs from Morris, who was signed to Atlantic at the young age of 17 in 2011. Despite her youth, Morris made the most of her early career boost, playing shows in London, developing her songwriting skills with singer/songwriter Karima Francis, and touring and recording with Bombay Bicycle Club for their expansive 2014 album So Long, See You Tomorrow -- all of which she brings to bear on the superb Unguarded. A well-curated assemblage of songs, some of which she wrote at 17 and produced with electronic pop mastermind Fryars (Lily Allen), and others she wrote more recently and recorded with Ariel Rechtshaid (Haim, Charlie XCX) in Los Angeles, Unguarded is a sophisticated debut, steeped in a chilly, if still insulated atmosphere that strongly evokes '80s-era Kate Bush. Morris earns such prestigious comparisons through her entrancing vocal prowess and offertory knack for writing catchy, eloquent songs that envelope you more and more with each listen. Cuts like "Under the Shadows," which intentionally lifts the groove from Bush's "Running Up That Hill," the sultry "Closer," and the Fryars duet "Cold," are infectious earworms that wouldn't sound out of place next to songs by artists like Peter Gabriel and Sarah McLachlan, just as they complement the work of such similarly inclined contemporaries as Gotye and Sia. ~ Matt Collar