The fact that Ware expresses a desire “to be a pop star in the classic sense” is telling. A seductive chanteuse she may be, but what makes Ware so dynamic is her chameleon-like quality that only comes from an understanding and mastery of classic musical reference points. From the newjack leanings of Sweet Talk to the Sade-esque neo-soul of No To Love, Ware constantly adapts with maturity and finesse. Even when channelling golden-age Whitney Houston on highlight Running, she refuses to fall back on bombast and instead exercises an uncompromising restraint too often neglected by her contemporaries.
In a positive irony, this ex-backing singer fulfils her diva ambitions by presenting herself as anything but: a self-described “normal, down-to-earth person”. Indeed, for a debut record, Devotion never competes for attention; it proudly exists on its own terms, and that makes Jessie Ware a diva in her own right – perhaps without her even realising it.
Check out my full review of the album over at the Concrete website.
2012 has definitely been a year of difficult, boundary-pushing music, so it feels almost reactionary that my favourite record – after much deliberation – is undoubtedly one of the simplest records to come out of it. Indeed, Devotion is one of few albums that can be equally enjoyed on a critical and commercial scale. A fine debut and surely the best to emerge out of 2012 Britain.