Jessie Ware has a fine set of pipes. That much is indisputable.
She looks the part too, a sort of 21st century Sade with undoubted teen girl appeal.
But what about the music? 2012’s Devotion was a decent record with some fantastic singles, if not entirely deserving of the enormous critical acclaim that was heaped upon it, and now Tough Love seems to be an attempt to turn that credibility into sales.
It contains some magnificent stuff. Single Say You Love Me draws favourable comparison with the kind of 1980s soul that soundtracked a thousand end of the night slow dances and is really rather lovely, especially the choir which appears from nowhere at the end. Elsewhere, Keep on Lying has class in spades, with 60s girl band backing vocals and a wonderfully unexpected organ accompaniment.
Champagne Kisses shows off Jessie’s magnificent falsetto in a wonderfully celebratory melody which also stands out, not just from the rest of the album but from her competition too.
The rest veers from catchy pop funk to edgier urban soul and is never less than pleasant, but it’s all a little too … what’s the word? Ordinary.
File under Could Do Better.
Like this? Try these: Adele, 21; Anita Baker, Rapture.
By Andrew Greenhalgh