Dynamic English singer songwriter Jessie Ware can boast guest vocalist appearances for the likes of grime and dubstep artist Joker and SBTRKT, but she’s also a critically acclaimed, accomplished artist in her own right. Having released strong records in Devotion (2012) and Tough Love (2014), Ware has just recently dropped her latest studio full-length Glasshouse.
Album opener ‘Midnight’ starts out with a mellow lushness and hints at a soulful underbelly to Ware’s work. However, the chorus is a bit stock and overly polished which gives the song an overt pop sheen. ‘Thinking About You’ continues on this trajectory which is a bit of a pity as the opening tracks veer into paint by the numbers songwriting that deals with broken relationships and regret. Thankfully ‘Stay Awake, Wait for Me’ is more of a blues/soul number which is gentle in its delivery, dragging the listener in. ‘Your Domino’ drives along on a synth riff and guitar lick which shows that Ware has a wide and varied musical palette.
‘Alone’, whilst well delivered, is largely forgettable. Likewise with ‘First Time’ but sandwiched between the two is ‘Selfish Love’ which starts with a Spanish tinged flourish and is full of yearning. It’s beautifully measured with a languid insouciance that shows what Ware is capable when she puts her mind to it. ‘Hearts’ is the big ballad moment of Glasshouse but it just fails to deliver that knock out punch. ‘Slow Me Down’, ‘Finish What we Started’ and ‘Last of the True Believers’ are solid rather than spectacular songs.
The album ends on the folky acoustic ‘Sam’ which suits Ware’s voice well and it is an area that she should mine more. Overall, this is a solid effort but Ware needs to take a few risks to lift her out of middle-of-the-road songwriting and further into the public consciousness.