After a period of intensely reflecting on the last 12 months, we’ve remembered that there are a few older records that are worth checking out too.
We therefore present to you the return of the Blind Taste Test series for 2021. First up, Sam Atkins introduces James Spearing to the world of Rae Morris.
This is the first time we’ve exchanged albums via a Blind Taste Test and I’m feeling much more confident that you’ll like this one than I did for the one I did for Fran. Our music tastes cross over more than any of the other Picky Bs team I think, so the fact you had never heard of Rae Morris or Someone Out There was surprising.
After a promising debut album and minor hit (‘Under The Shadows’) this follow up still managed to feel like it came out of nowhere. It’s such a perfectly formed pop record, highs and lows, danceable moments and emotive ballads, but it’s distinctively unique too. Every song is so clearly built from the piano to start with, making songs like ‘Wait For The Rain’ and ‘Rose Garden’ even more impressive in scale. The build up during ‘Lower The Tone’ is worth a mention too, it really goes off in such a satisfying way at the centre of the album.
I think you’ll really enjoy Someone Out There.
I must have confidently said I had never heard of Rae Morris at the time but now looking through her back catalogue, I definitely recognise the cover of her first album. Did I ever listen to it? Can’t be sure.
The cover of the second, Someone Out There, the subject of this very Blind Taste Test, is not familiar to me however. And the contrast between the two, seems to suggest a change in direction. The first a more mellow singer-songwritery affair, but this a more electronic or dance oriented record. Let’s hit play and find out.
I’m immediately struck by Rae’s voice. It can do subtle. It can do powerful. There’s a huge range in pitch and tone. I’m reminded of Lorde, MØ and Lapsley (who I should give you as the next BTT). It’s exciting. This first track ‘Push Me To My Limit’ is a great album opener. It really feels like an overture to something bigger to come as it gently builds throughout. It’s an interesting concept to start an album with too with her limit being reached at the very start and the rest of the album a rebuilding. With ‘Reborn’ up next, this makes total sense.
‘Reborn’ still feels pretty taut though, like Rae is still close to that limit and things could fall apart again at any moment. This feeling begins to change from ‘Atletico (The Only One)’, ‘Do It’ and ‘Wait for the Rain’ with a more relaxed and danceable holiday vibe. Holiday tunes are great in the right moment but will this album reveal some more substance to keep my interest? That being said, reliving some memories of trips to sunny islands is quite the tonic on a rainy night in January. Fuck it I’m going to have a wine.
I’ve not paid much attention to the lyrics yet as I’ve been happy to let the last three songs wash over me. ‘Lower the Tone’ was not the right point in this album to start Googling the words. It’s filth and I will not have it. I’m joking of course. It’s a very nice song about shagging.
Next up is ‘Physical Form’ with a more serious tone. I hear some piano and weirdly it sounds weird. It’s a rare appearance from something that sounds like a “real” instrument on the album. Which I don’t mind, but it was oddly jarring. The piano is back on ‘Someone Out There’ and it’s a welcome change feeling and pace after six quite similar tracks in a row. It’s a pleasant but sadly predictable ballad. ‘Rose Garden’ is more successful, mixing up the piano ballad with some relatively glitchy beats and thrilling melodic variation. It’s got festival torch song written all over it. It’s definitely my favourite song here.
Pleasant is the word I’ll come back to though. Inoffensive might be slightly harsh. I’m not saying I want to be offended of course but I was hoping for a little more surprise or challenge along the way. Many of the track titles seem quite clichéd or quite obvious metaphorical figures of speech (‘Dip My Toe’, ‘Someone Out There’, ‘Lower The Tone’, ‘Push Me To My Limit’). Yet Someone Out There manages to be evocative for me – perhaps a symptom of a life without holidays or live music.
I’m pleased you gave me this album though as I did enjoy a great deal of it. I’m definitely not put off and will be listening to some more Rae Morris soon. I hear a new album is on the way too.
Words by James Spearing.