The Blackest Lily
Label: Virgin Records
Corinne Bailey Rae had one of the best debuts of the 2000s. On this follow-up, she still holds onto a smart mix of neo-soul and acoustic English singer-songwriter, while opening up her sound to downtempo, psychedelia and sleek indie guitar pop. Having lost her husband to an accidental overdose in 2008, Bailey Rae is surprisingly upbeat and open-armed ("Paris Nights/New York Mornings," "Feels Like the First Time"), though she confronts tragedy head-on in a few tracks (including "I'd Do It All Again"), which build with undeniable intensity.