Why you need to care about Jessie Ware
Coming straight outta south London, Jessie Ware is the latest, brightest female singer on the block and one of the hottest musical tips of 2012.
Sure, you've seen enough pop prospects in your time who turned out to be all hype and no substance, but here are five reasons why you should care about Ware.
Cool, mainstream, it's all the same to Jessie
But she does have – undeniably – the coolest of backgrounds. Let's gloss over the whole 'getting discovered by BRIT School mockney Jack Peñate' thing and concentrate instead on her work last year with dubstep trailblazer SBTRKT and his occasional collaborator Sampha. Ware guested on a number of tracks on SBTRKT's acclaimed debut, setting herself up as one to watch and a hip name to drop all at the same time.
For all the impeccable pals and chic cachet though, Ware doesn't crave that exclusive niche. She wants to be the next Annie Lennox or Whitney Houston – a big voice that appeals across the board – and her spacious R&B soul could be just the vehicle.
She's got a voice you could spread on toast
And that's the most important thing, isn't it? Not that you need to eat honeyed tones for breakfast – more that you want a voice that's smooth, tasty and liable to get stuck all over your fingers. In a good way.
Ware's voice is a precious thing, sometimes understated, sometimes flirtatious, always glistening. There's no doubt she has the talent to match those heroes of hers. All she needs now is the reach, and debut album Devotion (out 20 August) could hardly do more to extend that.
She doesn't think Sade's a dirty word
Which if course it isn't, but Sade's silkily produced jazz-soul gained an unfair reputation for surface gloss in the 80s, dismissed as an empty mainstay of yuppie dinner parties.
Sometimes a little distance is all you need. In Ware's hands this forensically produced R&B has passion to match the style, and casts her forebears in a more sympathetic light. Reclaim the coffee tables!
She sings about her brother
Just like Lily Allen, only nicely. This is significant though, because an artist slipping out of dance circles could be forgiven for repeating lovey-dovey platitudes over and over – anything that sounds good between the pulse of bass and beat.
Ware, with the help of The Invisible's Dave Okumu, Kid Harpoon and Julio Bashmore, has made a fully rounded record with equal emphasis on mood, music and lyrics. There are sincere love songs but also dedications to a troubled brother (Taking In Water) and celebrations of a turbulent, spiky friendship (Wildest Moments).
Amid the downbeat funk and electro washes Ware is singing to us and for us, and she's never patronising with it.
Nothing can stop her now
There's little more potent in pop than the combination of commercial appeal and critical consensus, and if you've got the tastemakers on board too you're a dead cert. Ware has the ear of the broadsheets even as the blogs are singing her praises.
It's a happy confluence of events and opinion that comes along every… well, never. Do not stand in front of this elegant juggernaut. You'll get flattened.
Are you on the Jessie Ware bandwagon already? Let us know what you think on Twitter @MusicOnVM.