Jessie Ware has been knocking it out of the park with every single released thus far from her follow-up to her sublime 2012 introduction Devotion. Tough Love has already brought us the breathtaking title track and “Say You Love Me”, as well as the Dev Hynes-assisted “Want Your Feeling”. But it’s her collaboration with Miguel on “Kind of… Sometimes… Maybe” that perhaps leaves the most immediate, and lasting, impact. Despite her indecisiveness, the chorus is perhaps her hardest hitting to date, speaking for Ware when words fail her.
Make sure to check out what’s turning out to be one of the year’s best albums, Tough Love, when it’s released on 13 October in the U.S. through Island.
“Want Your Feeling” is the latest in the long line of teasers of Jessie Ware’s forthcoming Tough Love, following the title track as well as the Ed Sheeran-assisted “Say You Love Me”. “Feeling” continues Ware’s streak of working with outside songwriters and producers, with Dev Hynes of Blood Orange contributing to the recording. James Ford, who produced two stellar 2013 albums, Arctic Monkeys’s AM and Haim’s Days are Gone, produced this cut, and his touches are felt just as much as Hynes. The song punches with an assertiveness that is rarely felt in Jessie Ware songs, striking straight-on where her other tracks would skate around. On one of her first singles, Ware sang, “You keep me running,” yet on these latest offerings, Ware sounds comfortable standing in one place and building upward. Where she’s headed, perhaps no one knows.
While Jessie Ware’s music has always tip-toed the line of Top 40, it’s never gone over the line so emphatically as it does on the recently released “Say You Love Me”. Co-written by Ed Sheeran (“Sing”, “The A Team”), the song’s pop music credentials speak for themselves. I mean, the guy is good enough to have gotten a Taylor Swift co-sign. So, so what if the opening is a bit of a lyrical clunker (“Say you love me / to my face”), Ware’s music has always succeeded due to her tantalizing vocals and refined, unobtrusive productions. After “Tough Love” saw Ware utilizing her falsetto for the first noticeable time to incredible results, “Love Me” is another masterclass in vocal performance. Growing from a faint spark, the song swells till it reaches an organic, cathartic climax, full with a backing choir and an acoustic guitar-stomp breakdown. It’s quite unlike anything Ware has put to her name thus far, and the singer is enlivened by the new terrain. Judging by the list of collaborators for her new album, “Say You Love Me” is likely to be an anomaly among the other album tracks, but it shows an exciting amount of growth for an artist who seems to be just fine, no matter the direction her music goes.
Tough Love arrives 21 October in the U.S., while it’s out in the UK a couple weeks earlier (6 October), though PMR/Island.
Devotion, the debut album from Jessie Ware, was a refreshingly futuristic take on classic R&B, held together by Ware’s incredible vocals. On “Tough Love”, the first single from her forthcoming sophomore LP, Ware pushes her boundaries to unimaginable lengths, delving deeper into her vocal playbook than ever before. Her falsetto is a thing of beauty, and works flawlessly next to production from “Japanese teenagers” BenZel. (The duo is actually the work of mega-producer Benny Blanco and Two Inch Punch.) The two collaborated previously on the bombastic/understated Brownstone cover “If You Love Me”, but “Tough Love” takes the initial promise from their previous collaboration and turns it into a vital, compelling, original work.