Earlier this week, Jessie Ware tweeted a photo. It was of her little visit to Magic Chilled to promote her new album Glasshouse. Whether it was shrewd marketing or reluctant self-awareness we don’t know, but there’s no doubt that this is an album many an Uber driver will have wafting out at 3am.
As you’d expect from an album with this title, Glasshouse is exceptionally polished. But every pound spent on it, every production decision made, is so creakingly obvious that this pristine edifice threatens to collapse in on itself sometimes.
That’s not to say it’s a bad album – far from it – but Jessie Ware’s brand of refined soul is becoming, well, a little bit too refined. There’s no threat here to the status quo, whether it’s on the (admittedly booming) chorus of Midnight, or the facsimiled Spanish production of Selfish Love. The latter almost sounds like it could be a bit of a joke if it weren’t for Ware’s earnestness, coming across as the sort of person who’d use the word ‘beau’ in real life without a second thought, so we’re lucky Your Domino saves things a little bit. It pulses, it runs, and it sees Jessie Ware become the sort of pop star who is both fun (“all your apologies wrapped up in fancy bows”) and fresh.
But sometimes this just feels like an album of first-dance wedding songs. Thinking About You doesn’t even make any effort to be anything else, with it’s choir-backed chorus that seems to have been rented from Sam Smith. And that Magic Chilled vibe is so hard to shake throughout: melodies seem to be lifted wholesale from the 80s as Alone channels How Deep Is Your Love, and the ironically-titled Stay Awake, Wait For Me goes all-in with the late-night sax. Jessie Ware’s Glasshouse is fine, then, and it’s perfectly serviceable. We just wish it didn’t have its foundations planted so stubbornly in the middle of the road