With heavy exposure in 2012 Rae Morris’ debut album has been a long time in the waiting but the unexplained hiatus sees her return armed with a full band and a richer, more diverse set. As ever it’s her sultry emotion ridden vocals, which channel the sounds of Nerina Pallot which carries the night but the band allows songs like Way Back When to move from a piano ballad to something that feels like Kate Bush colliding with Coldplay.
Believe it or not, this is a compliment rather than an insult the band adding to rather than detracting from her vocals. This balance tips later in the night however on latest single Do You Even Know? which transforms her sound from what could happily be described as “power pop” to something more clubby in style. Whilst the double bass addition makes it a memorable number, it feels like it risks pushing Rae’s sound to a more commercially viable one, losing some of her sincerity in the process.
For me, it’s her solo rendition of Not Knowing which is the highlight of the set. Here her voice rises and falls leaving the piano melodies almost redundant. Instead it’s the emotional depth of her vocals that effortlessly conveys the doubt of the lyrics. Elsewhere it’s the looped backing track of Skin which creates a haunting number, which is able to seep beneath you skin creating something physically unnerving.
With older songs like Don’t Go nestling up against newer numbers like Unguarded, tonight serves to highlight that Rae’s time out has served to allow her songs to breathe and developed. This moves her away from feeling like a solo artist, to one who’s able to create a rich and intricate sound when coupled with sympathetic musicians. Meanwhile, the set, though somewhat short reconfirms a suspicion from several years back, in that Rae is undoubtedly deserving of more mainstream success.