Rae Morris takes a haunting step forward with ‘Someone Out There’

Sunday, February 4, 2018 - 4:40pm

NOSELL

Atlantic Records

 

If the music of Rae Morris could be described in one word, it would undoubtedly be haunting. Not in a spooky, or even uncanny way — her songs stick in the back of your mind for weeks at a time, the melodies high and memorable, ethereal even. Her first album, 2015’s Unguarded, was a stepping point for Morris into the world of synthesized music from her previous stripped-back EPs, while maintaining this haunting quality all the while. She found some success in this. Her song “Don’t Go” was featured on the UK television series “Skins” — a point from which her career broke out. Now, with her sophomore effort, Someone Out There, Morris has successfully translated the emotional poignancy of her originally simple style into the dance sphere, creating an album which merges electronic production and her talent for songwriting which pierces to the core.

Someone Out There is a well-balanced mix of this songwriting with new techniques for Morris, featuring shorter, more hook-centered tunes than in the past. Despite these changes, her elfin voice and knack for writing cohesive and interesting songs still shine through, arguably even more than in her previous releases. The album opens on a reflective and, well, haunting note with “Push Me to my Limit,” its droning, synthy beginning reminiscent of an orchestra tuning which tumbles into a reflective meditation on relationships which challenge and fulfill. She experiments with unique vocals in “Wait for the Rain,” similar to groundbreaking artists like Aphex Twin. “Push” is not the only slower, somber addition to Someone Out There, but the highlights of the record fall with her more upbeat compositions, like “Atletico (The Only One)” and “Dip My Toe,” which explore the dynamics of sex and compatibility with lyrics that expand on Morris’s interesting artistic perspective.

Out of every song on the new album, the standout is definitely dance anthem “Do It” — the first single from Someone Out There and arguably Morris’s most popular tune to date. It manages to meld her trademark emotional affect with a typical repetitive electronica hook, an incredibly catchy refrain which makes it hard not to start dancing whenever a listener hears it. “Do It” is a perfect example of how an artist can change and still retain their core sensibility while improving, using production to only enhance what was there before. If there is anything that could be recommended from this album, it would be that song — it serves as a poster child for Morris’s talent and bravado, a tipping point towards the celebration her work deserves.