“Someone out there,” sings Rae Morris on the title track of her new record, “Someone out there… loves you.”
It’s a moment that comes late in the album, ever so slightly veering on the John Lewis side of twee, but by the time we get to that point it fits in fully with the hopeful ethos her new album is trying to project. If her debut Unguarded was about the turbulent decline of a relationship, then Someone Out There encapsulates everything that is optimistic about the next cycle of love.
And it pours out of every pore of this joyous record, certainly the first essential pop album of the year, whether thematically (Reborn saw Rae Morris exactly that as she dumped piano balladry for hypnotic electronica) or in the smaller flourishes of Fryars‘ inventive production. Morris is happy and she not only wants the world to know it, she wants everyone to feel a little bit of it for themselves too.
The man Fryars has a lot to do with that, not just in production (that bounces on the sublime Atletico or stirs with a spacious respect for its accompanying voice on Push Me To My Limit) but on the personal front too. The pair fell in love during the making of this record, and that’s where Someone Out There excels above other records of its kind. Whereas most people talk about romance after it happens, it almost feels like we’re coming to the realisation in the same way they did. There are palpable moments of that early excitement, sparks of chemistry between note and vocal, and a coquettish game of hint-dropping that now seems so obvious.
Of course, it’s 2017’s happiest single Do It that sets that fully in motion. The uplifting key change, the peppering of ‘cold’ as a nod to the couple’s Unguarded duet, and the upfront chorus just sing with an innocence that is hard to capture these days, yet Rae Morris has. Lower The Tone echoes that again, managing this curious balance of not trying to give the game away while very much doing that given the subject of the song itself.
Needless to say, this is a different Rae Morris to the one that you’re expecting (or the exact one you’ll be ready for if you’ve embraced the singles). Arguably, the most interesting tracks haven’t been heard yet – Wait For The Rain charms with its uninhibited performance, Rose Garden pounds with a remix-ready new tone that we haven’t yet seen from her – but it all wraps up neatly as a sharp and ridiculously fresh divergence from her first album. To be fair, if even Rae Morris can go through the emotional devastation of Unguarded and in a matter of years come out with something as buoyant as Someone Out There then maybe, just maybe, there’s still some hope for the rest of us in this dreary old world after all.