thu 25/04/2024

CD: Jessie Ware - Tough Love | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jessie Ware - Tough Love

CD: Jessie Ware - Tough Love

Acclaimed London diva returns even stronger

Jessie Ware: one last record about unrequited love

How does an artist follow a debut album as well-received as Jessie Ware’s Mercury-nominated Devotion? With something just as insistent, just as beautiful and just as likely to stick in the brain. There’s something incredibly unassuming about the London-born diva, who despite having the sort of voice that would lend itself perfectly to big, belting R&B ballads, is content to play it subtle and let the music speak for itself.

Tough Love is, according to Ware, one last record about unrequited love before she becomes a happily married woman; and there’s a sepia-tinged late-night sadness to the album’s well-received first single and title track that sets the tone for the rest of the album. “When your heart becomes a million different pieces…” Ware practically sighs over production so minimal and effortless-sounding it can’t possibly be accidental, setting the scene for a crescendo around the second chorus that will take your breath away.

It’s an album of confident, standalone songs, executed so well that at times the listener can’t help but smile despite the subject matter the handclaps-and-synth groove of “Cruel” or playful Miguel collaboration “Champagne Kisses” are cases in point. But it’s the details that make them special. The almost bird-like effects that open, before subtly underpinning the chorus of, “You and I (Forever)”, the crackle and warmth of half-stream-of-consciousness “Kind of…Sometimes…Maybe”, and the infectious repetition that builds up to create “Sweetest Song” emphasise the skills of lead producers BenZel; while understated Ed Sheeran co-write “Say You Want Me” is a perfect demonstration of Ware’s emotive vocal style. If Devotion signalled the arrival of a new breed of star, Tough Love is the album that should make her a household name.

Overleaf: watch the video for "Tough Love"

Tough Love is the album that should make her a household name


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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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