Rae Morris – Unguarded

UnguardedRae Morris has done it. It’s that simple. Her debut album Unguarded was initially scheduled for release at the end of 2014, but marketing complications – probably surrounding her nomination in the BBC Sound of 2015 poll – forced us to wait for a few more months, all the while with baited breath and a tantalising sense of anticipation. Now and thanks to Atlantic Records, we’re about the feel the full effects of this artist’s creative ability. And boy, does she know how to make an impression.

Snippets of Unguarded have made their way towards us through the musical ether for months now. First came “Cold”, featuring long time collaborator and sometime producer Fryars. A slice of infectious electronica, it matches Rae’s melodic vocal talent with a mysterious, harmonic element from project lead Benjamin Garrett. Following singles “Closer” and “Under the Shadows” are equally impressive, though they pack a far bigger punch commercially. Full of radio friendly key changes and chorus to bridge transitions, songs such as these also demonstrate Rae’s staggeringly on point pop genius. Eponymous track “Unguarded” joins this group on the record; instrumentally sparse and infused with a dance element, it’s the kind of song that could break America. That, in the world of pop, is absolutely no bad thing.

As for the songs that haven’t yet been showcased to the public, opening track “Skin” is gorgeously sombre – quite literally digging under your skin to find a home in your body. Comparing Rae Morris’ music to a parasite sounds strangely gross, but it’s more than justifiable.  Stripped back and beautiful, “For You” and “Don’t Go” document yet another side to this lady’s talents without compromising her crystal clear vision. That is an outstanding credit to Unguarded. Although many of these songs are, on paper, vastly different, not once does Rae sound like she’s lost her way. Likewise she never sounds like she’s imitating someone more famous than her, as rising pop stars have a tendency to do. This album is resolutely hers.

Unguarded is music to live, love and die by, and an absolute essential listen.  Although we’ve been consistently impressed by Morris’ past material, we failed to properly realise the power of this album until we heard it in its entirety. The Blackpool born singer songwriter more than deserves the critical acclaim and recognition currently being flung in her direction. Unguarded is a concise, cohesive masterpiece.

Release: 26th January 2015, Atlantic Records

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