Although Rae Morris released her 2014 debut to a generally warm reception, she seemed to step back into the shadows and fall off the radar in the years that followed. Yet she returns here sounding reinvigorated, brighter, and more optimistic, without losing any of the emotional resonance or left-field influences that distinguish her from her peers.
Someone Out There is comparable to Grimes' Art Angels and Lorde's Melodrama in that it's a consistently brilliant album that twists the confines of pop to give it more personality. This was certainly the case on her debut, but here Morris chose to work with a much smaller team -- Morris had a major hand in writing every track, often accompanied by Benjamin Garrett (Fryars) -- which gives her specific vision and creative choices the space to truly shine. This full-on optimistic direction is very welcome, given the times, as Morris' voice is steeped in such sincerity that even a hint of melancholy can chill to the core; with the narrative reversed her voice is altogether warming.
Evidently, these are not just random words to pretty songs; Morris channels emotion from deep inside herself and her songwriting reflects her situation. This can be seen clearly by the difference in sound between both albums. Where the old Morris had reflective, soul-searching tracks such as "Skin," "Grow," and "Cold," Someone Out There trades them for themes such as fresh starts ("Reborn"), flat-out encouragement ("Do It"), and long-standing love ("Dancing with Character"). Of course, it isn't all positive vibes, but in the instances when Morris isn't audibly beaming, she's forthright, resilient, and hopeful. No matter the tack she's taking lyrically, it's hard to be cynical about Morris. She radiates genuine personality, and her second full-length demonstrates just how well she can bend pop structures to her will and sound fantastic in the process.