Jessie Ware

Glasshouse

PMR/Friends Keep Secrets/Interscope

Oct 27, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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The indie world doesn't exactly embrace sentimentality. There's emotion, sure, and lots of it, but it's often more on the side of heartbreak and depression than the side that celebrates love found, loyalty, and devotion. Perhaps it seems too easy to swing for the fences, to make a bid for big, relatable, emotional sentimentality. That quality is more usually reserved for big pop ballads and the adult contemporary station. That's why it's exciting that Jessie Ware, indie darling and progenitor of the minimal alt-R&B style that came up around five years ago, has given us her big pop album.

Jessie Ware's first two albums traded in cool, electronic tones over which her whispered, soulful pipes cooed sweet nothings and gentle heartbreak. Glasshouse, Ware's third and best album, sees her transcending the limitations of that restrained style. It's as if she's finally ready to step into the sunlight and unleash the true potential of her pristine vocals. This is clear right out of the gate: opener and lead single "Midnight" starts with typical dreamy verses, then lets loose a crisp funky chorus with Ware absolutely belting "Maybe I love you!/Maybe I want to!/Maybe I need you!" "Midnight" fittingly sets the stage for an album full of heart-on-sleeve anthems and sincere ballads.

Ware worked with some big names in pop, like songwriter/hitmaker Benny Blanco (on the bossa nova bop "Selfish Love") and Ed Sheeran (on closer "Sam"). Sheeran may be a bad word for readers of this publication, but "Sam," a beautiful ode to Ware's husband and baby, is so sincere and autobiographical in nature it's impossible not to be charmed by it. Elsewhere, Ware shows that she can elevate even the simplest material with a killer hook: "Your Domino" is the best synth-pop track since CHVRCHES' last album; and "Finish What We Started" is the '90s-movie end-credits ballad of the decade. In fact, as the second half of the album cools down into a stretch of slow songs, Ware's strong vocals keep you from getting bored.

This is one for the moms, and that's not an insult. Jessie Ware should be every Adele fan's new favorite artist, and that's not an insult either. In fact, it's a blessing that such pure, no-frills, sentimental pop should come from someone with the indie clout Ware still carries around. We all need a little love, and Glasshouse offers it in spades. (www.jessieware.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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