My first impression of Corrinne May’s new album, Crooked Lines, was how pretty and child-like its crayon-scribbled album cover was. A little girl with pigtails was featured drawing an emerald green line border around May’s name. The illustrations on the CD artwork were of a similar vein, of ships sailing through all kinds of weather, drawn from a crayon in a child’s hand.
And this is probably testament to the slight shift in direction in May’s music, revolving around the nurturing themes of life, motherhood and childhood innocence, with some cheeky interludes on romance. In her own words to her fans, the album is supposed to be “a tad more boisterous, more playful, more rhythmically-driven than [her] previous work ‘Beautiful Seed’ ”.
But I found that the music was more mellow and soul-searching than her previous outing. Besides the obvious fact that May had become a mother in the recent years, her beautiful prose was bursting with the song of a woman both celebrating life but grappling with some self-doubt as to whether she was living authentically.
“I shouldn’t be here
Me with my brokenness
Me with the holes in my wounded heart
It’s perfectly clear
This world would never choose me
‘cause I’m no work of art
I was headed down the slope
Had used up my hope
And that was to be the end of me
But You believed” – You Believed, Corrinne May.
“God writes straight with crooked lines
He takes the mess we make in life
Turns our groaning into perfect rhyme
Hidden by the veil of time
The wisdom of His love’s design
God writes straight with crooked lines” – Title track Crooked Lines, Corrinne May.
And this is how we have befriended May over the years – getting acquainted with the closest things on her heart, which are indeed very real. Crooked Lines is not just like any other pop album on the shelf evoking mindless romance and self-indulgent pathos, but it is an intimate session with an old friend from the music world. The honesty in her soothing voice enthralled me in the range of songs written and performed by her; from the whisper-like lullaby In my Arms, to the folksy gospel song If you Ask, and the moving ballad You Believed.
But my favorites’ of the album were definitely 24 Hours, Just what I was looking for, Your Song, and Sight of Love. I understand Erig Rigler (who recorded on soundtracks like “Titanic”) plays the Irish Whistle in an instrumental solo on two of the tracks in the album, which was an elegant touch to her songs, and her darling daughter Claire was featured in the title track singing a line from “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. The pleasant arrangements and execution of husband Kavin Hoo and team brought the whole album to life. I loved the strains of the toy piano in Just what I was looking for, which I thought to be one of the more commercial and addictive tracks.
I have always been fond of May’s voice. It has pleasant lilts, a crystal-clear upper range that peeks suddenly, breathy pauses, and that distinct and haunting tone which I have been listening to for nearly 10 years now. The meaningful lyrics infused by her voice, makes playing the CD on repeat a perfect recipe to rouse the heart on an afternoon when it is most dull and despaired.
My last word on this latest album of May’s – it is a deeply religious one, for the devout Catholic is not afraid of charting her spiritual pilgrimage and yearning towards the Lord through song. She sings of abstinence, abortion, and has an other-worldly air about her so strong, that it is intriguing.
I am smiling from ear to ear, honoured to partake in the fruits of May’s labour after 4 long years of life and love on the “labyrinth road”.
[Corrinne, if you ever read this, I’m a great fan, and your songs have inspired me in so many ways. Thank you for the music you have shared with us. (:]
Corrinne May’s latest album, “Crooked Lines”, is available at most music stores in Singapore. Grab it while you can. She is slated to perform at the Church of St Mary of the Angels on 23 March 2012 and at an exclusive launch of her album at the Hard Rock Café in Singapore on 27 March 2012, organized by Class 95 FM.