Oh, the ink we have spilled over Jessie Ware. The not-quite-slept-on-but-still-not-nearly-famous-enough Londoner has been on our radar since she first popped up on the first SBTRKT album many moons ago, and she’s been charming the pants off us ever since. Certainly her cachet precedes her; having guested on joints from the aforementioned SBTRKT to Disclosure (not to mention that incredible ditty with a then-unknown Sampha), but for some reason Ware remains relatively low key outside of her scene. That’s unlikely to change with the release of Glasshouse, another stellar record chock full of ballads you only play to yourself when it’s raining, the wind is howling, the fridge situation is grim and you just saw a photo of your ex pop up on your phone. For a married woman who just had a child, Ware is an absolute expert at heartbreak and longing. Her command of this particular field is executed to devastating effect on Glasshouse, which sounds forlorn even when it’s not. Having emerged from her dabbles in electronica, Ware has firmly recast herself in the image of ’80s and early ’90s torch balladeers with absolutely no time for irony. As the hip-hop world turns to jazz, so too may the pop world eventually swing back toward Ware’s classic style. In the meantime, we get to enjoy her all to ourselves.
‘Stay Awake, Wait For Me’ is a wonderful 6/8 ballad that sits firmly in the camp of a positive song that still sounds like your heart is being wrenched out. Fans of Jessie Ware will know that she’s long been an advocate for taking her time, but never has she sounded quite so relaxed about doing it. Ware has a big, brassy voice, the kind of voice that people would stand up and cheer for if they heard it in the context of a reality TV singing contest. Previously, on songs like ‘Sweet Talk’, she buried it in production, while her biggest hit to date, ‘Say You Love Me‘, went in the opposite direction. The notes are here, to be sure, but they feel like they’re leading the song rather than being led by it. That means that Ware’s first entrance in the verse is immediately arresting, as opposed to simply being a vehicle to get you to a showstopper chorus. When subtle horns arrive in the chorus, they buoy Ware’s already mesmerising melody, which quickly scales octaves and ends up in falsetto mode without so much as a flinch.
It’s definitely a sign of my age that of all the records I’ve had on rotation in the past month, Ware’s is the one that’s stuck. The songwriting is better, the instrumentation and production is top notch and it seriously is a joy to listen to her sing.
There aren’t many artists around that you can see will have longevity the moment you press play, but we always knew that Ware was one of them. ‘Stay Awake, Wait For Me’ joins the 7 other instances in which we’ve covered Jessie Ware, as our growth as music lovers tracks with hers as a musician. She deserves the accolades, but selfishly, I kind of hope she doesn’t get them.
There aren’t enough secrets left in the world. Ware is a good one for us to have.