In the year since the release of Corinne Bailey Rae’s second album The Sea, the Grammy-winning British singer-songwriter received even more accolades, such as a nomination for the Mercury Prize, and performed everywhere from Glastonbury to the White House. Holding fans over until the third album is The Love EP, a brief collection of cover songs. The Love opens with Corinne Bailey Rae tackling one of Prince’s earliest hits. Her version of “I Wanna Be Your Lover” maintains the staccato rhythm, but with a more synthesized pop sheen in place of the funk. Rae’s voice is a fitting tribute to The Purple One’s falsetto, but with her take on “Lover” clocking in at less than three and a half minutes, the question of how she would arrange the original’s instrumental second half remains a mystery.
Corinne Bailey Rae next ventures into the territory of early 90’s alternative rock with Belly’s “Low Red Moon”. Like the original, her cover features heavily distorted guitar riffs counteracting with haunting, spacey vocals, but with much of the desperate desolation stripped away. It raises the question of why has it taken so long for the song to be covered in the first place.
Of Corinne Bailey Rae’s five covers on The Love, it’s her bluesy interpretation of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” that is the most inventive. Rae slows down the reggae classic and gives it a jazz reinvention that showcases her strengths as a singer and arranger. It’s Rae’s soulful voice that makes an acoustic cover of Paul McCartney’s “My Love” lovely-but-forgettable, rather than merely pointless.
Bringing The Love to a close is a live performance of “Que Sera Sera” that is more a tribute to Sly and the Family Stone’s cover than the Doris Day original. Perhaps The Love would have been more compelling as a live EP, if the raw emotion and impressive jazz improvisation exhibited in the thirteen minutes of “Que Sera Sera” are any indication. While every cover on The Love may not be exceptional, Corinne Bailey Rae once again exhibits remarkable vocal and musical range.