The struggle in Jessie Ware’s newest album, Glasshouse, is clear. The album is caught between Ware – a talented, complex and innovative writer and singer; and Island Records, a commercially-obsessed subsidiary of the goliath Universal Records. As a result, the album is left with a very distinct pattern. The album features a few creative masterpieces but more often than not follows them with vapid, if catchy, fillers.
the album is left with a very distinct pattern
Highlights include the opening song, and first single from the album, ‘Midnight’. It’s a feelgood R&B track with definite Elton John and gospel influences. Her flawless vocals are exposed brilliantly through the album version, which is slightly longer than the radio-edited single. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, it’s immediately followed by ‘Thinking About You’. The vocals are still strong, and it’s catchy as hell, but the song is reminiscent of a Sam Smith/Ariana Grande-esque pop song. After such a strong and dynamic start, this track is somewhat of an anti-climax. It almost feels like the writers have run out of time to put together something to follow ‘Midnight’. After the princess pop ‘Thinking About You’, the bluesy ‘Stay Awake, Wait For Me’ is a welcome return to Ware’s offbeat style. The song could easily feature a verse Frank Ocean or Khaled and to some extent, I hope the record label consider a re-release with a rap verse. A trumpet solo in the middle, as sensual as it is, could easily have been replaced.
The second single from the album, ‘Selfish Love’ is a grower of epic proportions. It has taken on the Latin-American craze that has been rampaging through pop music at the moment, but stays true to Ware’s strengths, and will leave you singing it weeks later. The closer, ‘Sam’, co-written with Ed Sheeran, features the highly emotional and personal tale of Ware’s journey through various relationships and the birth of her son. The lyrics are simply exquisite, but (and I’m admittedly a fan of Ed Sheeran) it seems that Ed has infected a deeply personal song with a mainstream appeal, which has damned it to be a typical melancholy, nostalgic ballad that lacks any kind of distinctive qualities and as such is quite a disappointing end to a promising album. The album finishes with almost a minute of free-style, legato trumpet soloing and an out of place droplet sound effect that appears to be some attempt to make the album feel off-the-wall and meaningful. In summary, after waiting years for new Jessie Ware music, I wish she’d spent a little more time on it either writing more brilliance, or fighting her label.