Jessie Ware has always retained the spirit of an underdog. A powerful vocalist who could outsing most of her “alternative-soul” peers but declined to chase trends for the sake of a hit, Ware hit a career snag after her third album Glasshouse did disappointing numbers. In a recent Guardian interview, she winced as she recounted the brutal Coachella set she played in 2018 while touring that album. “I’m up there, 33 years old, singing about motherhood. It was just… tumbleweed,” she said. “My mum was there with me… She said, ‘Darling. Quit.’”
Luckily, Ware didn’t heed her mother’s advice. “Spotlight”—the latest single from her forthcoming album What’s Your Pleasure?—begins with a sweeping orchestra that hints at adult-contemporary balladry before slipping into an understated boogie pocket. It drips with the hallmarks of a long-lost city pop classic; Ware’s sultry vocals, nearly a whisper, float atop beds of string flourishes and synthesizer swells courtesy of Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford. Every aspect of “Spotlight”—from its heart-wrenching final line (“Tell me when I’ll get more than a dream of you”) to the subtle acid house conclusion—betrays the handiwork of real studio experts. Almost a decade on from her debut, Jessie Ware reminds us why we listen to dance music in the first place.
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