If you want a voice of clarity, reason and truth, then sit back and let Jessie Ware glide right over you.
After a bunch of star turns on tracks by dubstep-centric leaders such as SBTRKT and Joker, 28-year-old Jessie Ware has given us a complete body of work that defines her as so much more than some pipes for hire.
On Devotion, the Brit channels the sounds of vocalists such as Sade Adu and Dido. However, things never feel expected, due in part to the record's production, which mixes early-'90s sparseness with the sort of live band soul found in pockets all across London's East End. And the songs are versatile. This is romance put to reel, no question, but there are tears in this voice. Ware holds a restrained power – her vocals forceful yet never overpowering – and the ease with which she manages to generate emotion is humbling, the simplest pitch shift enough to elicit shivers.
From the moment that synth-driven wash hits you on the opening title track – the sounds gliding in and around your ears like fish swimming in a bowl – you're immersed in this record. It might be designed as relaxing but you can't help but concentrate and take notice. Wildest Moments is an empowering anthem about stepping away from a fragmented love, while Night Light manages to take an item directly associated with one's childhood and twist it into an adult metaphor that hits home. And when Ware questions, “Who says no to love?” mid-album, you quickly find yourself pondering the same sentiment.
Devotion manages to offer an intelligent take on female soul without any chart-topping cheese and over fraught clichés. If you want a voice of clarity, reason and truth, then sit back and let Jessie Ware glide right over you.
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