at House of Blues, July 31

Corinne Bailey Rae’s exquisite, self-titled debut CD is not flawless, but it’s pretty damn close. Literate, subtly layered across genres and full of emotion, it’s the type of album that will be damned by hipsters and certain rock critics for being “tasteful,” for appealing to an unsexy demographic: depressed English Lit chicks, folk-loving dykes, soccer moms and Grammy voters. But when the frail café au lait English rose took the stage at the House of Blues — clad in a slip dress, clutching a cuppa tea — the roaring crowd was peopled across racial and ethnic lines; a rep from seemingly every subcultural enclave was present. To say she charmed and wowed the sold-out house would be an understatement. With her arms stretched wide, then high, and then liquidly curving to accompany her singing, and with those gorgeous, evocative, kneecap-melting cracks and breaks in her voice, Rae sang almost all the songs on her album and then brought the place to a boil with a fantastic, blues-drenched cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” Her band fleshed out the airtight production on the album, creating a sound both muscular and moving.

The show’s highlights were many: just the lady and her guitar for the hit single, “Like A Star”; a hypnotic “Call Me When You Get This”; the raucous, roof-blasting “I’d Like To”; and the show-closing “Seasons Change.” Don’t be misled by the videos for “Like a Star” and “Put Your Records On,” which are embarrassingly obvious and play like feminine-hygiene commercials. Miss Rae can sing her ass off, giving herself over to the emotion and pull of the music, her slight body contorting and bobbing, her smile and obvious joy in performing flooding the audience.

—Ernest Hardy

LA Weekly