Pitchfork (Website) - "Rae is back with a new album and a lush new sound. The vibe is far more colorful than anything she's done previously, and her collaborators -- KING, Esperanza Spalding, Moses Sumney and others -- set a high bar for unique alternative art."
The gap between The Sea and The Heart Speaks in Whispers, Corinne Bailey Rae's second and third albums, was over six years in duration. During the wait for full-length number three, Bailey Rae released The Love EP, a brief set of covers that featured a Grammy-winning update of Bob Marley's "Is This Love." She married Steve Brown, a keyboardist and producer who had been a factor in all of her releases for Capitol. Bailey Rae also shifted from that label to Virgin and worked on new recordings with a handful of old and new collaborators, including Brown and Steve Chrisanthou, as well as Paris and Amber Strother of the emergent King. The Heart Speaks in Whispers naturally doesn't pack the heavy emotional weight of The Sea, an album issued after the multi-instrumentalist tragically lost her then-partner Jason Rae. It's all spirited and lively. At their best, the wide-eyed folk-soul moments tend to evoke a contemporized version of fellow Englishwoman Linda Lewis, even on "Do You Ever Think of Me," assisted by songwriting demigod Valerie Simpson and, through references to "The Makings of You," Curtis Mayfield. The more electrified and groove-oriented material is bound to elicit parallels drawn to the likes of early Erykah Badu and, well, King. Each one of the Strother collaborations is stimulating, with lyrics and productions that complement one another. "Been to the Moon" swoops and slides, reflecting Bailey Rae's alternation between delighted and demanding exclamations. Its dazzling electro-soul gives way to a trumpet, saxophone, and flute coda that works far better than it should. "Horse Print Dress," more like purple paisley, is ecstatic, private, joyful synth-funk, while the dazed "Green Aphrodisiac" drifts along on a sinewy, unmistakable Marcus Miller bassline. Multiple allusions to working past bitterness and metaphorical storms help cast the album in a rejuvenating light. Despite all the likenesses that can be heard, it all comes out fresh, pieced together and transmitted in a way that no one but Bailey Rae -- a remarkable and flexible artist with some very real life experiences -- can approximate. ~ Andy Kellman