tue 23/04/2024

CD: Jessie Ware - Glasshouse | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jessie Ware - Glasshouse

CD: Jessie Ware - Glasshouse

A captivating voice struggles to overcome a surprisingly flat collection

"Put the stones down Jessie"

Singer Jessie Ware has long been considered a bastion of grown-up pop. A natural heir to the estate once tended by Sade; a scenic artist providing the background to relaxed conversations with good company; the eventual recipient of a recurring spot on Jools' Hootenanny in perpetuity.

Glasshouse, Ware’s third album, has been preceded by two singles. “Midnight” came dressed in a breathy, wispy outer layer that was soon whipped away to reveal a slow soul stomper, while “Selfish Love” sounded like Amy Winehouse being covered by a bossa nova Portishead covers band. While that might not sound like huge praise, both are hooky as hell and the high water marks of what is, for the most part, a surprisingly flat collection.

The vast majority of tracks here ebb and flow without upsetting, but also without leaving any trace of themselves – they fill space and then they’re gone. “Stay Awake”, “Wait For Me”, “First Time”, “Hearts”, “Slow Me Down”, “Last of the True Believers”… none of these songs fizzes, smoulders… pops even. Musically, they’re the equivalent of pre-painted IKEA canvasses – tasteful at first glance, but ultimately artless. The delivery is fine and Ware’s voice is truly captivating, but the music it inhabits has no footholds to offer up.

Album closer “Sam” is the most personal moment, as Ware shifts into a comfortably confessional mood. It feels more like a diary entry than a song and the blunt directness is its strength. For the first three minutes, it has Ed Sheeran stamped all over it – thuddingly predictable resolutions rather than pop revolutions are the order of the day. However, with two minutes to go, something extraordinary happens as the discreet trumpet comes to the fore while keys drift off to do their own thing, creating an atmosphere not unlike Miles Davis’ “In a Silent Way”. It’s an odd ending, make no mistake, but utterly lovely, and no odder than the choice to leave “Til the End” and “Love to Love” as extras on the deluxe edition when they’re possessed of far more substance than most of what’s gone before.


The delivery is fine and Ware’s voice is truly captivating, but the music it inhabits has no footholds to offer up


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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