Jessie Ware broke through at a time where female pop vocalists with booming, commanding voices were having a moment. These go on a sliding scale, from great albums like Natalie Duncan’s Devil in Me and Claire Maguire’s Light After Dark to dead-eyed clot Jessie J and her hit single ‘Price Tag’.
Jessie Ware is the most critically revered of all of these acts, and has returned with ‘Midnight’ and a forthcoming album.
What draws people to Ware is the prettiness of her music as contrasted with the gritty and vociferous force of personality that buffets just beneath it’s surface. That’s still intact on ‘Midnight’, a booming and passionate neo-soul single. Ware fans will be pleased.
Fans of pop music (i.e ourselves) may be less inclined. There’s an unevenness to ‘Midnight’. It begins sounding like a horror movie, until the music drops out entirely, and a Motown tilted, doo-wop chorus comes in.
It’s a juddering change of pace, and I’d be lying if I said this song had any sense of pace. You can’t sound like ‘In the House, In a Heartbeat’ one moment and then ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ the next and expect to maintain a sense of momentum.
However, I suspect listeners will be won over in the end. Jessie Ware sings with a forceful hunger that can’t be faked. The power of her performance will seam over the cracks. Next time though we’d like something that goes down a little smoother.