Friday, November 2nd, 2012
Review of Jessie Ware’s Devotion
Kate MorossIn all honesty, I intended to write up Jessie Ware’s debut Devotion today whether or not it took the Mercury Prize last night or not – it went, as expected, to the heavily-favoured and bewilderingly dull Alt-J – I don’t need the validation of a shadowy cabal of British music industry types to tell me what the best British (or Irish) album of the past year is. Not to say that I’m bestowing that title on Devotion myself, but with each successive listen, it certainly makes a stronger case for itself.
Initially, the temptation is to classify her as a soul singer and indeed, her voice is a rich, emotive instrument with the perfect balance of breathy, brassy, and husky and if Ware had opted to follow a more traditional or throwback path, accolades would still surely be coming her way. But instead, the production on Devotion – courtesy of Dave Okumu of The Invisible – bounces from electronic, sample-happy beats (fitting, since she first attracted attention via her guest vocals on a SBTRKT song) to slick conventional band arrangements to inventive intersections of the two, generally refusing to hew to any specific musical dogma and emerging all the better for it.
And yet for all the musical ear candy permeating Devotion, it’s Ware’s songs and vocals that make it a remarkable record. It yearns and aches where it should without ever getting overwrought. Where lesser songwriters would turn to vocal tricks to grab the listener’s attention, Ware offers up gorgeous melodies, emotive lyrics, and rock-solid hooks. It’s a record that immediately announces itself as noteworthy, yet thanks to its smouldering pace, takes its time to reveal itself and grows stronger and more impressive each time out. It may not have won the Mercury, but Devotion is a stunning, can’t-lose debut.
Devotion has yet to receive a North American release, but that’s coming in 2013. She’s signed a deal with Cherrytree that will first yield a sampler EP in 110% by December to be followed by a brief US tour in the new year. Presumably more extensive touring will follow the proper release of the record, or at least it better.
Kate Nash loves her some Hallowe’en. Not only did she release a spooky-themed video for a song that will appear on an upcoming EP – you can also download it from her website in exchange for an e-mail – she also teamed up with Emmy The Great for a Buffy-themed Hallowe’en party wherein they recreated the musical episode, “Once More With Feeling”, on stage, though trainspotters may point out that Emmy is dressed as Willow and Willow didn’t really participate in the musical episode because Alyson Hannigan can’t sing worth a lick… But I digress. You can watch videos from the show at Bleeding Cool. And I won’t lie – I would buy a recording of this show.
Video: Kate Nash – “Fri-End?”
Polly Scattergood is putting the finishing touches on her promising and intermittently inspired 2009 self-titled debut and has made a track from it available to stream. The album, still untitled, is due out next Spring.
Charli XCX is streaming a new song taken from her new Super Ultra mixtape that’s scheduled to become available next Wednesday.
Billboard talks to Pete Wiggs and Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne about undertaking their first North American tour in a decade without a label behind them. The San Francisco Examiner, meanwhile, talks to Sarah Cracknell.
Stream: Esben & The Witch – “Deathwaltz”
Stream: Allo Darlin’ – “Wu Tang Clan”
Exclaim has collected some information on Johnny Marr’s first proper solo record – apparently we’re not counting when he fronted the disappointingly bland Healers – which will be called The Messenger and be due out in or around February.