Rae Morris, if you haven’t heard of her, is one of those artists that haven’t gone jumping in with guns blazing straight into the limelight. She’s stepped back, assessed the situation and taken a few years to improve her writing and get to the place where she wants to be on her own terms. This is commendable, but does debut album Unguarded manage to showcase the growth and skill of the English singer/songwriter?
Skin starts off the record in fine fashion and introduces you to the overall tone – part electronica, part ballad and part melodic pop. The tick-tock rhythm pushes the song forward with Rae’s plush vocals sitting nicely on top as she sings lyrics of new-age pain: ‘a broken one I spy the light of wounded sun’. Closer comes somewhere between Ellie Goulding, Coldplay and folk, set against oldskool 90s drums (think Return of the Mack), and features some great production which lifts the song up and away.
What the album needs in places however is a bit off heating up. This is ironically seen best in track Cold, mainly because of singer/producer Fryars making a welcome appearance in an electro-pop classic; you can tell why he chose to feature on this track, whilst deciding to helm the producing duties on others. Under the Shadows sees Morris come out of her shell a bit more, featuring a hint of Enya in the background, and the Enya-esque wails are seen yet again on For You, which is a sweet sentiment of a track with some nice build ups and melody – Mr Coldplay himself, Chris Martin would be proud of this.
The problem with the record is Rae’s maybe left it too long to release this upon the world. If Ellie Goulding wasn’t so big, if the music industry didn’t have a recent clutter of this type of artist, she may have been able to stand out in the crowd, but she’s now going to find it a tough job to do so. She does seem perfectly content in her style, which is commendable, but a little veering off can work wonders on an album like this.
There’s nothing overly wrong with the music however, and track This Time is testament to this. It’s beautifully innocent tones and inventive backing arrangements are set against sombre heartache that come across perfectly in the lyrics: ‘Through blood, sweat, tears and kindness, we’ve arrived at this conclusion’.
Unguarded is a pleasant album without going overboard. It seems to have come at the tail end of a time when this sort of record would have been huge; this is a shame. Although Rae doesn’t seem like the sort of person who would care about that; she writes for herself. If she has to wait a few more years to get big she wouldn’t give a damn, and I’d be looking forward to her next offering.