Neil Carpenter, manager of HMV Blackpool, reviews Rae Morris’s debut album Unguarded, released today - ahead of her live homecoming session in the Bank Hey Street store on Wednesday.
“It feels like we have been waiting forever for a Rae Morris album, such has been the buzz of anticipation with every new song we hear.
Five years in the making, Unguarded is, unsurprisingly a hugely accomplished and multi-layered debut, reflecting both the time allowed to perfect the album, along with the raw talent and boundless potential of the Blackpool songstress.
The hauntingly beautiful Skin opens the album, a piano-based ballad that we instantly associate with Rae, her voice immediately makes you search for comparisons – the obvious influences include Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Feist, PJ Harvey and the recent breakthrough of Ellie Goulding, but it is the fact that Rae’s voice sounds instantly familiar, but also totally unique, that draws you in so completely.
Track two and current single Under The Shadows was the last song written for the album, and in Rae’s own words “it feels perfect that it will be the song that will lead people into the full record”.
It is a confident burst of pop energy that pulls the album in a different direction, a feature that runs throughout, with past single Closer building to a foot-stomping, hand-clapping epic chorus that will be a live favourite.
We are eased back down to earth with the Tori Amos-esque piano and emotional twists of For You and then the stand out track in our view, the sublime Love Again which caused a massive social media stir when played on Radio One last week.
The rise and fall of emotions throughout the album really does demonstrate how rounded an artist Rae has become. The vulnerability of her voice on Don’t Go is heartbreaking, and is contrasted with the fire and fight of title track Unguarded.
The album is an impressively accomplished piece of work, it feels like Rae Morris really knows who she is and what she wants to do.
The album’s credits thank Karima Francis for ‘leading me to the start line’ and ‘mostly, Blackpool, for being the perfect place to grow and learn’ a touching tribute, and something to make us all proud - from an artist destined to do just that.”