Review: Jessie Ware’s ‘Glasshouse’

For years I had heard of Jessie Ware, be it in passing on the radio, in conversation or elsewhere. I’d never, however, actually sat down and listened to an album of hers all the way through. Having just done that several times for her newly released Glasshouse, I’m now even more confused about her popularity than before.

After a three year hiatus, Jessie Ware seems to have little to show for it. It’s not that it’s bad, exactly. That would almost have been better perhaps; a truly bad album can at least be entertaining in other ways, if for example it’s so bad it’s funny. This album, however, is just earth-shatteringly bland.

This album is just earth-shatteringly bland

Despite this, the opening track, ‘Midnight’, is a good start; Ware’s soulful vocals course over a jazzy chord sequence. There are also some great backup vocals that build to an anthemic final chorus. Don’t get too used to it though. This is one of only a handful of good tracks tactically scattered through the album’s listing to try and keep the whole thing together, being about as effective as intermittent life support.

The next two tracks, ‘Thinking About You’ and ‘Stay Awake, Wait for Me’ are where the mind-numbing begins. There isn’t much to say for them other than they are forgettable. The former has some interesting harmonies at points, but that’s sort of it.

This lull is broken by track four, ‘Your Domino’. Some great synthesised textures are paired with grooving guitars and danceable percussion. It is also one of the melodic high-points of the album, having some of the catchier hooks.

The next few tracks keep this momentum going, with some Spanish-influenced electric guitars on ‘Selfish Love’ adding refreshing character to what has otherwise been a very paint-by-numbers project. There is also the album’s most successful shot at emotional profundity with the song ‘First Time’.

‘First Time’ is the album’s most successful shot at emotional profundity

The second half of the record, however, is horribly boring. ‘Hearts’ is easily the worst track of the album, proving dull and generic even by Glasshouse’s standards. The chords are terrible and the melody is instantly forgettable; a song of heartbreak that’s depressing for all the wrong reasons.

It is this latter half of the record that shows what it truly is; an album of fillers propped up by singles, and with no singles left, the whole thing gradually dissipates like a damp fart. The final track, ‘Sam’, ticks off the raw emotional closing song cliché, and about as well as you’d expect, with the only silver lining being that this nasty cash grab of an album has ended.

Jessie Ware’s latest effort, or lack thereof, will probably bore even her staunchest fans. The instrumentation is plain and forgettable whilst the song writing is lazy to the point where it feels cynical. The only exceptions are the singles that pop up to provide life support, which defeats the point of even making an album in the first place. Whilst it isn’t terrible, Glasshouse is as uninteresting as it gets.

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