Album Review: Jessie Ware – Devotion

Posted: August 27, 2012 in Dyscyplynary Action, Music Review
Tags: ,

Artist: Jessie Ware

Album: Devotion

Release Date: August 20, 2012

Label: PMR/Island Records

I remember three years back as a budding freshman at Hampton University; so much enthusiasm, curiosity, and determination in my journey on becoming the next journalism luminary. As I made friends and solid bonds with my professors, what became prominent was the growing relationship with my roommates through our love for music. All of us from different areas and backgrounds, all sharing ideas and artists with one another and building our iTunes library with ease. On certain nights, one of my roomies would play Sade as he fell asleep. An avid fan of her music, he gave me a formal introduction to her as I never gave her a deeper listen until now. With her tall, elegant frame and alluring voice, her sound brought a calming vibe under the grooves as she sings on love, no matter how sad or happy the theme may be.

When I look at Jessie Ware, I see an image of Sade. Her quiet, reserved demeanor, along with the restraint she shows in her voice as she pulls you in with the changing tempo. And it’s the tempo that stands out, having you feel compelled to shimmy at the first drop of the beat and lose all grip of reality. The 27-year-old Londoner who went from covering English football games as a journalist, to becoming a background singer, Ware polished her craft working on songs produced by SBTRKT and Joker before setting out on her solo career. As she proceeded to make the leap, she falls in both feet first and delivers a vastly stunning and sensual debut in Devotion.

Ware’s control is evident all throughout this album, but it is perfectly done on the opening title-track, as she yearns for comfort over the dark, seductive backdrop created by Dave Okumu. The home run comes directly after with “Wildest Moments”, a radio-hit in the making that could make waves on American soil sooner rather than later. It’s a ballad with empowering piano keys and striking drums with Ware pushing-and-pulling on a complicated relationship (From the outside/everyone must be wondering why we try/Why do we try?). For someone who likes being in the background more, it’s moving tracks like this and the two-stepping “Running” that could catapult her to superstardom.

Jessie does a delightful job in combining the adult contemporary sound of today with pop-soul bounce made popular by in the late 80s. The subtle, invigorating “No to Love” would come off as a extended interlude at first listen, but makes for the transition from “Still Love Me” to another highlight in “Night Light”. The bubbly “Sweet Talk” gives off a vibe reminiscent of Janet Jackson with synths that could have been on a SBTRKT project, no longer able to escape an addictive love. The variety continues with the electric “110%”, as Ware radiates joy in her voice over a slowed Big Pun sample. It is there when she solidifies her stamp graciously.

Devotion can very well be the breakthrough for Jessie Ware’s beginnings, exploring the range in her sound while maintaining a simplistic familiarity. It’s never a dull moment here, as all 42 minutes brings something catchy, vibrant, and exuberant. It’s quite the testament to her talent, as she still shows signs of holding back and this is only the start of something more. Until then, we dance in calamity.

Rating: 9/10

Highlights:

  • “Wildest Moments”
  • “Running”
  • “Night Light”
  • “Sweet Talk”
  • “Taking In Water”
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