Album Of The Year Already? Rae Morris's "Unguarded" Sets Standard for 2015
Hailing Rae Morris’s debut album Unguarded as one of the albums of the year might not sound like the greatest accolade when we are yet to emerge from the first month, however it’s going to have to be an extraordinary 2015 for anything to change by December.
With a release-date perfectly timed to see off gloomy January, Unguarded provides a glimmer of hope for the year ahead. Despite her unbelievable omission from the BBC Sound Of 2015’s top five, it’s clear that Rae is an artist who is going places. In fact, you only have to look at the album artwork – in which her hair is remarkably evocative of a lion’s mane – to get the message that she is a force to be reckoned with.
For those of us who floundered trying to identify the voices of big name stars when listening to the latest Band Aid single or the BBC’s God Only Knows cover (apart from when it’s very obviously Lorde), it’s exciting to come across such a powerful and distinctive voice. It’s even more exciting when it’s combined with world-class song-writing and production. And, having spent the last three years working on and perfecting this body of work, it’s a lesson in patience paying off in a world that is constantly threatening to hurry on by. In a charming case of Blackpool-meets-Los-Angeles, Rae even packed her bags for America to work with super-producer Ariel Rechtshaid, as well as enlisting the talents of Fryars and Jim Eliot on home turf.
The album is an introspective coming-of-age account, revealing of the 22 year-old’s dreams, questions and fears, both past and present. The lyrics are crushing at times, such as in "For You" (when the week moves onwards, it’s ruthless and it’s grey’) and "Skin" (‘we break the rules and listen to our own skin, we break our hearts and pretty much everything’).
Along with Rae’s movements in her music videos and the way her voice seems to effortlessly fly in any direction, the emotional intensity and storytelling that runs through the album also bears the influence of Kate Bush. In "Don’t Go" she pleads ‘make me feel like hope again’ with the same believability of Bush’s cries in "This Woman’s Work" (‘oh darling, make it go away’).
The quality of the songs that didn’t even make the album is another indicator of the level of talent we’re dealing with. However, the new tracks won’t disappoint long-time fans. If Eric Prydz’s "Pjanoo" wasn’t enough to convince you, the huge sound of "Love Again" is all the proof you need that a piano can get you busting serious moves. "Morne Fortune" is another new one and another stand-out moment of the album, utilising stormy sounds in a song that is epic without ever being overblown.
It's time to celebrate a young British singer-songwriter with a fantastic future ahead of her.
Unguarded is released on Monday 26th January on Atlantic, to pre-order a copy click here.
Words by Emma Snook