On 2015’s ‘Unguarded’, Rae Morris put her name to gentle ballads and music for dinner parties. There was nothing wrong with her debut aside from its misleading title, which veiled a relatively safe first step.
This makes follow-up ‘Someone Out There’ even more of a revelation. Without precedent, Morris is now making music that dives into the unknown, pop that snaps and crackles and isn’t afraid to be strange or awkward. Most importantly, she’s not taking risks just to prove a point: for every daring leap into the unknown, there’s a payoff.
On fidgety lead single ‘Atletico (The Only One)’, synths bubble up like geysers before Morris declares, “You are the only one!” in a feat of vocal gymnastics last heard on Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’. The more cool-headed ‘Do It’ is an ode to losing all inhibition, while ‘Lower The Tone’ nods to Bon Iver by creating intimacy from nothing but a vocoder and sparse electronics. It’s one epiphany after the other. On ‘Reborn’, when Morris sings, “These are new beginnings / Won’t let the past determine where I go from here,” she really means it.
Every single song breaks new ground for Morris – even the simple title track, which admittedly could have been found down the back of Chris Martin’s sofa. There are slight slips towards the vanilla territory of her debut, like the plodding ‘Physical Form’. Otherwise, this is a giant leap for a now-fascinating prospect. It’s the audio equivalent of swapping vegetables for popping candy. Unless Wayne Rooney rediscovers his form, comes out of retirement and lifts England to World Cup glory, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more notable step up in 2018.