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UPDATED 02/01/2010 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 02/01/2010 at 01:00 AM EST

Corinne Bailey Rae

The Sea |

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CRITIC'S CHOICE

SOUL-POP

Sometimes great beauty can come out of tragedy. Such is the case with Corinne Bailey Rae's second studio album, her first since the March 2008 death of her husband, saxophonist Jason Rae, from an accidental overdose. Channeling her grief into these deep waters, she captivates with a haunting, heartbreaking set that's almost painfully exquisite. From the plaintive strums of the soul-baring opener "Are You Here" to the "goodbye paradise" refrain of the title-track farewell, there is an elegiac elegance underscored by the fragile ache in Bailey Rae's voice. All is not somber, though: She breaks into a '60s shimmy on tracks like the funky, psychedelic-tinged "The Blackest Lily." But the disc reaches its cathartic peak with back-to-back ballads: "Love's on Its Way" and, ever so aptly titled, "I Would Like to Call It Beauty."

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