Rae Morris Sounds Promising on Debut Album ‘Unguarded’

At twenty-one years old, Rae Morris carries the maturity of a seasoned songstress. While many singers her age are pressured to produce sugary pop songs, Morris manages to create a thoughtful and delicate debut with Unguarded. Released January 26th in the UK, the album features more piano ballads than songs you would hear on mainstream radio.

The British songstress was signed to Atlantic Records at just seventeen, and has already sang backup for multiple British bands, including Bombay Bicycle Club (see their single “Luna”). After releasing multiple EPs, she recorded her album during the summer of 2013 in LA with producer Ariel Rechtshaid, who has worked with Haim, Vampire Weekend, Charli XCX, Justin Bieber, among many others.

With her long, wild and wavy hair, Morris could be compared to New Zealand singer Lorde, but sounds more ethereal and airy. The album begins with “Skin,” a delicate, soft ballad that introduces the listener to Morris’s high vocal range and raw talent. On “Closer,” Morris’s voice sounds jazzier and sways into more pop territory in its chorus. Title track “Unguarded” is a mid-tempo pop ballad with a beautiful layering of Morris’s vocals, while ballad “Morne Fortune” has a piano tune that could be on a Matt & Kim record.

Unguarded is an appropriate title for the album, as Morris shares a vulnerability with the listener through her lyrics and the relatively stripped-back production. Morris wrote or co-wrote all twelve songs on the album, and while some lyrics are a little cliché (like on the uninspired “Love Again”), Morris hits the mark more than she misses it. “Don’t Go,” a raw piano ballad first heard on the series finale of the UK’s Skins, is heartbreaking in its vain attempts to work it out with a lover. Morris desperately pleads, “Don’t go/ Don’t feel like you have to/ Only if you want to,” and it’s a moment where we all have been before.

Piano ballads dominate the album’s soundscape, but it can get a little repetitive. When Morris speeds it up and experiments a bit more, it works to her benefit. “Do You Even Know?” is produced like an Ellie Goulding song and there’s a nice contrast between a slower verse and a faster, clubbier chorus. “Under the Shadows” is a catchy mid-tempo pop song with an 80’s vibe.

The track “Cold,” featuring electropop artist Fryars, is the standout track of the album. The song plays out like a he-said-she-said argument, and Fryars’s spacey, autotuned voice perfectly complements Morris’s breathy vocals. This is the track most likely to be played at a club (and I hope it does).

Overall, Unguarded is a solid debut and a promising entrance for Rae Morris into the female songstress world. You can purchase her album here via iTunes.

Featured Image courtesy of the artist.

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