Trying To Get To You

Monday, August 28, 2006

Come a Little Bit Closer...


When I see soul music, I’m looking to be overwhelmed. I want gritty and messy as opposed to nice and smooth. Raw over stylized. Stax over Motown. I state these preferences in the context of the Corinne Bailey Rae show I saw at Webster Hall on Wednesday night. I went in knowing nothing about her; I hadn’t gotten her record or checked out anything online. Initially, I wasn’t particularly impressed; two songs in, it sounded nice enough, but bland. But I stayed, and I got into it. What initially got me was the crowd; it was the best and most diverse audience that I had seen at a show in a long time; black and white, gay, straight, kids and adults. They audience received the show with an increasing rapture; this wasn’t a response to hype – this was a response to music that had touched them. And Corinne’s presence is so winning – open and friendly, with a strong onstage command, that it was impossible for me not to like her and enjoy the show. Her band was also outstanding, with one of the best rhythm sections I’ve seen in a while.

The album? Well, it’s pretty good. It’s one of those “Sunday Morning Brunch” records for urban sophisticates. It’s really great aural wallpaper with very “nice” songs. But one song is a bit more, a song that encapsulates Corinne’s playfulness and potential for joy – check out “I’d Like To.”

Capitol deserves credit for their marketing campaign on the record. They’ve been working black outlets like BET and Essence six months prior to the record dropping, and making them feel ownership of Corinne. Most record companies probably wouldn’t have even seen the possibility of a light skinned, relatively smooth English soul singer reaching an urban audience. In the record business of today, it seems sometimes as though they’ve forgotten about any black audience except the ‘hood.

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