Finally, a contemporary female pop-star enters the music world with a story to tell and a fashion sense rivaling the great pop-stars she follows. Jessie Ware's fame is newfound -- she emerged onto the UK scene just two years ago, singing lead vocals on SBTRKT's well-known track, "Nervous". Ware already has an incredible following here in the US, but her debut album has yet to be released stateside. Devotion drops on April 16, 2013 with two bonus songs, including a remix of her explosive single "Wildest Moments" with A$AP Rocky. We spoke via the house phone at Commodore Ballroom as she was preparing for her set in Vancouver. Her South London accent -- of which there is almost no trace in her singing voice -- was thick and approachable.
Ware was in San Francisco in January promoting the record and playing to a sold-out Rickshaw Stop. "It was amazing," she said, "I got like four bouquets of flowers after that show." Since San Francisco is such a foodie town and Ware is such a classy lady, I had to ask her if she had any American tour snack vices. "I was a right cow on the last tour 'cause we were driving, I demanded we go to Whole Foods last time around on our way out of San Francisco. I tried to get into kale crisps but couldn't quite. I wish I could eat Reese's and peanut butter M&Ms all the time, but I just can't!"
Silly questions aside, Devotion isn't a typical dance-pop album. Ware's sound is unique, not just because of her beautiful and booming vocals. She co-wrote the songs on the album with clear ideas for what sounds should back each song. "Wildest Moments," the song that introduced me to her music, is a good example of how she makes personal songs accessible to listeners. "I feel incredibly connected to that song," she confessed. "It's a song about my best friend, I wrote it after having a huge fight with her and being frustrated with her. We go round and round having fall-outs about things that are stupid and making up. I had to be thoughtful about our tempest relationship but wanted to highlight the fact that she's the best. We wrote it on the guitar originally, and [it] turned into a bit folky or country sounding and I wanted to put a hip-hop beat on it to harden it."
Other highlights from Devotion like "Running," and "Still Love Me" root themselves in '80s familiars. Hanging on every word, her voice perfectly pushes the boundaries of each song on this album. She keeps us close in her repetitious chorus lines and then rewards us with gutsy croons our American pop singers wouldn't dare attempt. It's not quite a dance album, but it sits in the emotive electronica realm -- something with energy that keeps you conscious without becoming too hyper. It takes a few listens to really hear how impeccably the instrumentation and electronic accompaniment compliments Ware's intoxicating vocals. Jessie Ware is sweeping the music scene, and I go willingly into the perfect storm.