Corinne Bailey Rae’s live version of Bob Marley and The Wailers’ ‘Is This Love’, for instance, reinvents the reggae classic as the smooth soul that’s typical of her own compositions.
It’s a style that receives the warmest response from the audience during tonight’s homecoming set. Musically it’s encapsulated in the Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter’s breakthrough single ‘Put Your Record On’, which is as sweet a slice of pop soul as you could want.
She does have other tracks that are equally commercial. ‘Trouble Sleeping’, which showcases the strength of her honeyed vocals, is a prime example although ‘The Skies Will Break’ is hard to resist, being one of the evening’s most groove orientated moments.
It’s often when she dips a toe out of the mainstream that she’s most satisfying. ‘Closer’ isn’t dissimilar to the smooth soul vibe of Sade and ‘Breathless’ features a jazzy piano break.
‘Paris Nights / New York Mornings’ and ‘Green Aphrodisiac – she’s appropriately dressed in an emerald jumpsuit – are nonetheless highpoints, the former having a slightly psych-soul feel and the latter being built around a spacey guitar sound.
Both tracks have the retro soul pop instinct of Lianne La Havas but there are times when this is threatened by an over indulgence from her admittedly tight four-piece band, with one too many songs falling foul of protracted middle eights or Rae’s habit of getting the audience to sing along.
The gesture of inclusion is even so part of Bailey Rae’s down to earth charm, which has helped her to weather a fickle industry and enjoy success with her recently released third album The Heart Speaks In Whispers.