Monday 20 August 2012

Jessie Ware - Devotion

Jessie Ware has slowly been developing her music career after providing backing vocals and guest vocals on a number of tracks, most notably with SBTRKT on his self-titled debut album of last year  Now releasing her own debut, she's proven she's not only a bona fide solo artist but a real class act who oozes sensuality.

'Devotion' is a soul record at heart, but with dance music pumping through its veins.  There's an element of Sade in the vocal - floating effortlessly above the production, yet with emotional depth.  Devotion proves to be an apt name for the album and as Ware falls in love, we can't help but fall with her.  From the title track's repeated "I need your devotion", to Running's "I'm ready to run, ready to fall, think I'm ready to lose it all" and the faintly suicidal lyrics of Taking in Water, love is a necessity - an idea that's questioned with No to Love's repeated refrain "who says no to love?".  Love is also an irresistible force, as typified by Sweet Talk - "you give me the sweet talk and it works for me" - but, as on current single Wildest Moments, it's never simple.  A beautiful, anthemic ballad that details a tumultuous relationship, the lyric "everyone must be wondering why we try" is followed by a chorus of yearning melodies. Yet these lyrics are all delivered with sultry sensuality and a subtlety rarely seen in today's musical landscape of vocal gymnastics.

Ware's vocal adds warmth to the glacially smooth production. SBTRKT has clearly had an influence, with his skittering beats and icy cool detachment.  110% is indicative, blending synth washes with a beat indebted to Andre 3000 and Kelis' Millionaire.  The opening of Still Love Me is an abstract mix of processed percussive sounds that come together to form a complex beat punctuated by bass notes, atop which Ware questions "do you love me?".  Devotion shimmers into view, the dampened guitar lines and beats skimming off the surface, the deep bass line complimenting the sultry vocal.

There are still big ballads to provide some powerful moments, but Ware employs a high degree of subtlety.  The string opening of Night Light gives way to reverbed guitars and agitated beats, culminating in a raw guitar solo in the middle eight.  Wildest Moments and Taking in Water are also standout tracks - the former for its restrained vocals and stadium drums, the latter for its huge scope that's never overblown.  In all, this is an album that's simply devoid of bad tracks.

Ware's fusion of soul and dance, like the love she sings about, is an irresistible mix.  Chic and seductive, her soft vocal and the inventive production combine to form one of the finest albums of the year.


Gizzle's Choice:

* Devotion
* Wildest Moments
* Night Light
* Taking in Water

Listen: 'Devotion' is available now.

Watch: Jessie Ware will be touring the UK in November.

You may also like...

* Delilah
* Sade