Jessie Ware, Devotion

J. Edward Keyes

By J. Edward Keyes

on 11.30.12 in Reviews


Jessie Ware
The best parts of ’90s R&B mixed with current trends in UK dance

In the video for breakout single “Wildest Moments,” UK singer Jessie Ware appears, dressed in white, in front of a blank white backdrop and begins to sing. And that is pretty much all that happens. But the thing is, not much more needs to happen: The song itself is potent, big, “Paper Plane”-style bass drums and Ware’s smoky alto preaching the gospel of two-way love as a path to self-actualization. It’s like that throughout Devotion, Ware’s sneakily seductive debut that fuses the best parts of ’90s R&B with current trends in UK dance. Throughout, the music is deliciously underplayed: cool blankets of synths, percussion that percolates like an 8-bit coffeepot and the occasional filigree of guitar. It makes for a new kind of high-tech lover’s rock, cruising sleek and quiet as a sports car on a city street in the hours just before the sun comes up. Like all the best crushes, it sneaks up on you unexpectedly, and takes a firm, unwavering hold.