Making appearances at Glastonbury, T in the Park and V Fest, Jessie Ware was a must-listen for me this Summer, an artist who I had slightly neglected in favour of prioritising other fresh, female artists pushing musical boundaries, like FKA twigs and Banks. However, the time came to finally listen to Ware and once I started, I couldn’t stop.
Out of Ware’s two albums, Tough Love immediately stood out. The LP isn’t without its flaws, and a few songs could easily evaporate into a rather generic background sound (‘Kind Of… Sometimes… Maybe’ and ‘Sweetest Song’ being the only examples of this). However, the LP contains some of the most gentle and well-crafted songs to come out of last year’s music scene. To begin with the obvious, ‘Say You Love Me’ is a contender for one of the most underrated ballads in years. Bleeding with emotion through the power of Ware’s vocals, ‘Say You Love Me’ gracefully builds in momentum but maintains a certain tenderness, evoking an authenticity that can easily get lost. The album’s title track also stands out, demonstrating a more confident, involving sound. Although relatively simple, the track is infused with R&B notes that compliment the ballad-esque quality of Ware’s staple sound. It is here where Ware becomes one of the most interesting female British artists of today.
However, the masterfulness of Ware does not just lie in the two main singles spawned from Tough Love, but also a few of the other tracks, most notably ‘Keep Lying’, ‘Want Your Feeling’ and ‘Champagne Kisses’. Beginning with the latter track, ‘Champagne Kisses’ not only unveils the wondrous vocal range of Ware but also reveals a sort of epic dimension to Ware’s sound, where harmonies build to create an overwhelmingly cathartic chorus. I’d argue that it’s the biggest song on the album, where it is simultaneously tender and strong and terrifyingly easy to lose oneself in.
‘Want Your Feeling’ is an engaging piece. Although appearing tame at first, the track is varietal as its core and provides a melodic dimension to the humane simplicity of other tracks. ‘Keep On Lying’ is the highlight of the album though, with its ballad origination transforming into a slightly sultry, absorbing track evoking mellow melancholia through its lyrical content. Its mild electronic beats make for a wildly underestimated genre exploitation, but most importantly brimming with soul, the perfect sound to reveal the quite stunning sound of Jessie Ware. Although a year late, listening to Tough Love throughout the Summer was certainly time well-spent.