Album review: Jessie Ware – Glasshouse

Jessie Ware may not be throwing stones in her latest album Glasshouse, instead she mostly plays it safe, with another conventional soul-pop release that is already hitting all of the right notes.

Her simplistic approach has remained fairly similar throughout her relatively short career so far, but judging by the second single from Glasshouse she could be shifting towards more variety. It is one of the few clues on the album suggesting that she may have become restless, therefore ready to explore new territory. “Selfish Love” is a Latin American styled number, which is worlds apart from the more generic production that she has favoured in the past. The FKA Twigs-esque first single “Midnight” on the other hand does sound more familiar (especially if you are a Demi Lovato fan), but this may be a musically pivotal moment for her.

This newfound experimentalism has not appeared to hinder her talents for singing ballads though, as she so deftly proves on the monumental “Alone”. Here she channels more Sam Smith than Shakira and gives even the most velvety voices in show business a run for their money. The heavily emotive “Sam” gives Ware another chance to show off her impressive lungs, and is bound to pull on some heartstrings, as it is dedicated to her husband. Glasshouse, like most albums, has of course been fleshed out with a few stereotypical songs, but even during those numbers, Ware’s purity shines through. These may still be a phenomenal showcase of her incandescent vocals, but the album as a whole could still do with a shakeup.

“Thinking About You” is one of those songs that are almost too perfect, so immaculate that it could do with some grit. The electric guitar licks may be a half-hearted attempt at this, but the result is still a squeaky clean record that struggles to stand out. On “Your Domino” Ware picks up the pace, and it sounds magical. There is a touch of Little Dragon here, and within the lyrics, there is some clever symbolism (‘I wanna be your domino’), and the mystical backing vocal layers and detuned synths are also effective. “Selfish Love” has to be the highlight though, not only for Ware’s sultry vocals, but the instrumentation and overall production has hit the nail squarely on the head. This step aside from her usual style sounds very good on her, as does the Latin-American clave rhythm.

Jessie Ware first arrived on many listeners’ radars via a string of remixes and features with dance music artists. These singles, with producers such as Disclosure and SBTRKT, remain some of her strongest to date. If only she would take a risk more often as she did in her formative years, it could create a more engrossing final product. Not that any artist should be criticised for sticking with what works for them though, as each of her releases has enjoyed commercial success, and are undeniably listenable. Her dedicated fans will surely love this album as it follows her soul-pop / easy listening vibe, perfect for both your nan’s coffee table or even a student’s afterparty playlist.

Come and see us at your local Richer Sounds for a demo of Glasshouse today.