Album Review: Devotion, Jessie Ware, August 2012 (Universal Island Records)

Jessie Ware is a UK-based vocalist who, before this album’s release, performed vocals with SBTRKT, a.k.a. UK DJ and Producer, Aaron Jerome. Her debut album, Devotion, stands astride both the pop and electronic genres, serving up a variety across its eleven full-length tracks. Her voice is versatile as well. She uses it differently across the tracks, projecting more on some than others.

Although the pop and R&B influenced tracks on this album are good, Devotion’s best moments are those that are carried by electronic beats and synth melodies. “110%” and “Running” in particular are more readily accessible on early listens and will have a longer staying power. “Sweet Talk” is a R&B/dance cross-over that works well: early Mary J. Blige meets Inner City.

Of the more conventional tracks, “Wildest Moments” is a hit, featuring the strength of Ware’s vocals and a tribal drum backbeat that will play well on the radio. But like most pop songs, it will shine brightly and fade quickly.

Unlike other solo albums I’ve reviewed of late, the star here is not the vocalist or even the songwriter. Instead, the producers win the day. Dave Okumu, Julio Bashmore, and Kid Harpoon are noted as the Production team. Of the three, it is likely Bashmore’s influence on the electronic-centric tracks that will make this album memorable.

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