Jessie Ware

There’s much to admire in Jessie Ware’s rarely trodden path to fame.

First appearing on tracks by SBTRKT and Joker, over the past couple of years she’s become the Ware.

First Lady of the genre no one likes to call ‘UK Bass’, while forging an
aura of old school soulfulness that’s prompted comparisons to everyone
from Sade to Chaka Khan.

On this, her debut full-length, Ware affirms her status as an independent figure, a pop star happy to release on a tiny label and savvy enough to team up Ware

with The Invisible’s Dave Okumu, whose production skills lift
‘Devotion’ into the realms of modern classic with ease.

Ware is possessed with a voice that’s powerful but perhaps not all
that remarkable – all surface and sheen with a steely gloss about it like

nail varnish – but it’s to her credit that she knows how to manipulate it
into engaging timbres and melodies.

The funky, gauzey ‘Swan Song’ layers up multiple slices of soft throatiness,
‘No To Love’ slathers it in heavy

coats of reverb, and on the chorus of ‘Night Light’ she holds her nerve
and banishes the fluttering melismas to produce a vocal that’s unmistakeably Whitney.

Okumu’s guiding hand has obviously been a vital ingredient in bringing this innovation to the boil, and playful references to smoochy

80s R&B are liberally distributed over tracks like ‘Sweet Talk’ and
earlier single ‘Running’.

The Julio Bashmore-produced ‘110%’ is an obvious stand-out, partly because it makes use of the alluring softer voice Ware used on
‘Valentine’, an earlier duet

with Sampha, and partly because it really sounds nothing like the rest of the
album, with its pacier drums and aggressive vocal sample.

A strong debut indeed, and a clever move from a singer who’ll probably never be referred to as ‘featuring Jessie Ware’ again.

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