Yes, Valentine’s Day was over two months ago, but a good love song doesn’t need to be confined to a certain day. Besides, it was Jessie Ware’s mixtape of the same name that introduced me to the Mac Band classic, ‘Roses Are Red’ that would become our official One A Day Valentine’s Day Anthem for 2012, so everything comes around as it goes, anyway. In somewhat indirect ways, Ware has haunted the hallowed halls of this blog for months. Her co-star, Sampha, is the voice of some of the best tracks from the SBTRKT record , as well as being a tremendous singer in his own right. She also runs with the Young Turks crew, who boast ONEMAN, SBTRKT and Sampha on their roster, as well as that little-known band called The xx. Julio Bashmore produced her second single. Oh, and she went to school with Jack Penate and played in his band. Londoners; they have it so good.
Jessie Ware is classically trained and has the kind of airy soprano register that I could honestly listen to for days and days. What struck me immediately about ‘Valentine’ is the subtle way in which it’s executed; here is a song that could easily be ten times bigger, dripping with strings and heavy beats. Instead in flutters about delicately like it’s afraid to land to heavily on anything, reversing all the ideas that I associated with this post-dubstep movement of last year because the ‘drop’ simply doesn’t exist. It’s tantalisingly short as a song and an idea, and yet it manages to say absolutely everything it needs to in the short sprint it takes to the finish line. The cascading little drum sounds give way to that simple muted tubular-bell arpeggio that forms what is perhaps the only backbone of the track, allowing Ware to float in on the chromatically descending wonder that is her melody. The phrasing is excellent, moving between complex word puzzles to pure long notes, soothing every kind of soul. The way her tone ineracts with the phased kick-drum during her legato is undeniably incredible.
There’s not much to say about Sampha that hasn’t aleady been said. The guy positively drips with both pathos and swag, a kind of super-hybrid of Cee-Lo and Seal. He acts as the perfect foil to Ware, extending her theme and rolling with it into the second chorus which seems to come and swallow up the entire song much too soon. Nonetheless, the crux of the thing, ‘Cause I know about my love’ stays with you long after the stirring heart-apring kick drums have ceased beating their triplet fanfare. It’s lovely even way after the day it was designed for. There’s no better sign of a truly good lovesong.