This week, one of last year’s most celebrated albums finally gets a stateside release.
Devotion came in August for the lucky natives of Jessie Ware’s home country in the U.K., and music snobs on this side of the pond became increasingly jealous as the buzz surrounding the album rose. But now we’re able to hear what all the fuss was about, and we’re discovering that this new broad-shouldered female act can really deliver.
Floating within a genre sometimes labeled “quiet storm” and “sophisti-pop,” this woman carries herself calmly and passionately through whatever questionable place in music she belongs. These songs are forces to be reckoned with, reeling in deafening drums and even more piercing vocals for a completely gripping effect.
Jessie Ware’s tranquil force works quite like Beyonce’s serious album tracks: strong in vocals, innovative in production and haunting in their effect upon the listener. Ware’s smoky tone pierces through the spectrum that we’re used to hearing, echoing its way through each chorus. The singer’s take on pop infuses soul and R&B with charisma, which is why Devotion resonated so heavily with critics last year. Many were surprised to learn this was the singer’s first release, too, knowing how mature and established the sound felt.
Another unbelievable aspect of Devotion lies in the fact that production of the album did not include big-name producers. The catchy alternative glory of “Wildest Moments” and the binding squeeze of “Night Light”’ with its true love connection, were crafted from relatively obscure hands. This overcomes a tremendous feat when realizing how much it takes to produce a hit in the contemporary world of music.
One of the best parts of hearing Devotion in full is knowing that Jessie Ware doesn’t employ a one-trick pony in her “no nonsense” music making.
Every listener will find a favorite song on the compilation, some of us fawning over initial nostalgic single “Wildest Moments” while others swoon for the Disclosure remix of “Running.” Acoustic versions of each will drive you crazy with their emotional capacity.
We almost imagine a smoke machine to run through the entire set of Devotion’s tranquilly rampant sounds as Ware’s drama animates a cool narrative. As the singer raises her arms to highlight the intensity of her message — perhaps in the scary metaphors of “Swan Sang” or the imagery in “Running” — we imagine lasers piercing through the fog for a visually impactful vocal monologue.
We talked just last week about how U.K.-based singer Olly Murs and his team played a clever move in scheduling his album release dates nine months apart. This allowed for hype and extensive promotion to travel with the singer as his brand grew more widespread. Jessie Ware plotted the same scheme, and there’s no way it can’t work for such a one-of-a-kind talent if it’s working for Murs.
And this release drops at a perfect time for the latecomers who’ve never heard of Jessie Ware. The singer will blow out Chicago’s Lollapalooza stage in August for thousands of glory pop fanatics. Oh, and the gold edition of Devotion released Tuesday features a handful of new songs, including the insatiable “Strangest Feeling” and a killer A$AP Rocky remix of “Wildest Moments.” Whatever it is that knocks you off your feet, don’t get too carried away because you’ve got to pay attention: Jessie Ware is coming and she’s going to take this side of the pond by storm.