Featured singer-itus. It’s a condition that few featured vocalists have ever managed to avoid, becoming mere extras in the annals of music history rather than fully-fledged popstars in their own right. Jess Glynne, sadly, is unlikely to escape that same fate.
That’s not to say Glynne is untalented – far from it. She’s leant her vocals to a number of different tracks on the strength of her talent alone, coming to the attention of many on Route 94’s My Love, before truly breaking through on Clean Bandit’s Rather Be. She sings with a powerful, reedy tone and husky upper register that’s immediately recognisable. Vocally Glynne really lets loose on ballad Take Me Home – a welcome respite from all the dance beats. It’s hardly Adele though.
The main issue with ‘I Cry When I Laugh’ is Glynne’s frequent pairing with Clean Bandit. When Rather Be (and later Real Love) emerged last year, the band’s mix of classical and dance music sounded fresh. Fast forward a year and on her solo material Glynne is still trading on that same template – annoyingly catchy vocal hooks, bright strings, house piano and deep beats. Nestling her own tracks amongst those of her collaborators only highlights the lack of soul and distinct personality on the album, her music mostly plastic imitations of Clean Bandit. The fact there’s a duet with the Queen of Boring Emeli Sandé simply fuels the fire.
That’s not to say there aren’t some decent tracks here. Not Letting Go with Tinie Tempah (one of the songs of summer 2015) is criminally only available on the deluxe edition, but elsewhere Real Love is as strong a pop song as ever and the acoustic version of My Love is beautiful in its simplicity. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find the disco funk of You Can Find Me, the stuttering beats of Why Me, and the staccato horns of It Ain’t Right. Equally there are the identikit singles Hold My Hand, Ain’t Got Far To Go and Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself, plus the weirdly Indian influenced, sadly-not-a-cover-of-Taylor-Swift Bad Blood.
There’s very little here you won’t have heard before: whether literally (in terms of previously released singles and features), or sonically. The album boasts a surprising amount of number one singles and no doubt this album will ride that wave to the top of the charts. But Jess Glynne’s time is now – as a solo artist she doesn’t have the personality or longevity to stick around.
* Real Love
* You Can Find Me
* Why Me
Listen: ‘I Cry When I Laugh’ is available now.