Corinne Bailey Rae review – a genre-mashing celebration of her artistic freedom

Ladbroke Hall, London
Showcasing her fourth album, Black Rainbows, the singer-songwriter moves away from her soulful roots to a more anguished, angry sound that is also joyful and cathartic

Corinne Bailey Rae wanders the stage wordlessly, wafting handheld percussion instruments at amplifiers and members of her band as though burning sage to cleanse the space. All around her is the sound of more percussion and the tentative investigations of a saxophone. She picks up a singing bowl, its sonorous hum cutting through the atmospheric undergrowth, then straps on an electric guitar and begins to sing. The track is called A Spell, A Prayer, and it serves as an invocation. “We long to arc our arm through history,” she intones, “… to unpick every thread of pain.”

For most of her career, Bailey Rae has been known for her breezy soulful hits. Put Your Records On (2006) is forever etched in the collective consciousness, the stuff of perennial smooth hits radio. Mobos and Grammys followed her 4m-selling self-titled debut album, released the same year. This 300-capacity arts space, where she is playing three nights after a run of low-key North American venues, is not where you would expect to find that more starry incarnation of Bailey Rae.

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