Jessie Ware – Devotion (Album Review)

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Music’s got a very cyclical nature.  Styles come in, change things and then fade away.  Then they come back in a retrospective way and are fashionable again.   Then they resurface, fully fledged with a new addition.

Music’s not the only medium to do this, you just need to look at the average cinema listing or what’s on TV to know this.  Listen to the radio and the music will have tinges of the sixties, seventies and the eighties to it.  Jessie Ware’s début album is strongly flavoured by the decade of her birth and the twenty seven year old singer has created an album that, in places, is very impressive.

Produced by Dave Okumi, her album “Devotions” shows influences from various funk, R+B and electronica styles.  Her sound shares connections to one of the eighties biggest and most divisive stars; Prince.  There are also little touches that contour Donna Summer.  In terms of modern influences, the production does occasionally sound somewhat like “Little Dragon”.

The album is textured, lush and seductive.  Jessie’s voice is put forefront and rightly so, it’s rich, luxurious sound that suits a number of styles.  She’s at her best in the more atmospheric tracks like “Devotion”, “Night Light” and “110%”.

In terms of the music itself, there’s a charming retro sound that harks back to the eighties.  There’s a funky, soulful sound that at times is a little bit overproduced.  Songs like “No To Love” and “Taking In Water” feel a  bit overburdened.

The more upbeat, dance influenced tracks show the hand of Julio Bashmore who had a hand in the album.  Tracks like “Running”, “Sweet Talk” and “110%” are going to be remixed and become club tracks for certain.

The album has some moments that clang a little bit too.  “Still Love Me” is largely very good but at times feels very dated.  “Not To Love” strays across the line into cheesy at times.  “Night Light” is straight ahead, unpretentious pop music, this needn’t be a bad thing but it’s not very interesting.  “Taking In Water” is too lush, too rich and outstays its welcome a little bit.

However there are also some moments of genuine inspiration.  “Devotion” is soulful, ambient and atmospheric, creating a musical tension and is highly reminiscent of Little Dragon.

“Swan Song” is an emotive, sensual and highly charged tune.  “Sweet Talk” is an upbeat dance tune that wears its Prince influences on gaudy sleeves.  “Something Inside” is much more delicate and Jessie shows off her vocal range in a song that sounds  a little bit like Florence.

“Wildest Moments” is the stand out track on the album.  This glowing, cool song is a perfect end of Summer tune which feels tailor made for a late night in a beer garden.

Ultimately, the album gets more things right than wrong but most of the tracks are only good.  Four or five tracks stand ahead of the rest as examples of what Jessie can produce and may be enough to make this a solid album for your collection.