Corinne Bailey Rae (EMI)

The very public and unexpected death of her husband has probably changed Corinne Bailey Rae, as it would surely change anyone. It has certainly changed her music.

The stock music industry phrase “difficult second album” can rarely have carried as much weight as it does with The Sea, which to all intents and purposes is a eulogy for her former lover.

Leaving aside the odd airier moment (Paris Nights/New York Mornings), the sun-soaked optimism of Put Your Records On is conspicuously absent here.

From grief-shrouded opener Are You Here to the plangent sorrow of the title track, The Sea makes for uneasy listening. It’s partly because of the subject matter, but it’s also partly due to the shapelessness of some of the songs.

Still, at its best – the fluid, shimmering Diving For Hearts, for instance – it transcends the confessional. Beautifully sung and empathetically produced by Rae with Steve Brown and Steve Chrisanthou, The Sea is much more than one person’s panacea.