April 16, 2013

"Wildest Moments," by Jessie Ware

Howdy, folks! I have returned from a blogging hiatus. Yes, yes, I'm sorry - it was very impolite of me to duck out and leave you with no knowledge of iTunes' exciting free singles. In my defense, I had Spring Break, followed shortly thereafter by my 21st birthday. And the days thereafter went something like this:

But I'm back and rip-roaring to do some obligatory bliggity-blogging. Now, ofttimes when I write these reviews, you'll hear me complain about the mix of a song. Whether it's a harmony that can scarcely be heard, an electric guitar line that's oppressively loud, or there isn't enough bass on the track there are an infinite number of ways to mix a track poorly. Fortunately, this week's track, "Wildest Moments" by Jessie Ware, has heralded my return to the blogosphere with a near perfect mix.

Jessie Ware is a south London singer-songwriter, who made her name by doing vocals for other big-name UK artists. Her debut solo album, Devotion, was released in 2012, but is coming stateside for the first time this week. iTunes calls Devotion a pop album, but its tracks feature a melting pot of musical influences - rock, R&B, soul, electronic and trance. They use the pop label as a simplifying term here, but it's wrong. It's on par with assuming that all people of Hispanic heritage are Mexicans (something that happens far too often in my home state of Texas) - it's not an appropriate label and does a huge injustice to the subject.

In this instance, Jessie Ware shouldn't be called a pop artist. She won't be coating you with musical sugar using hooks that you can't get out of your head, silly upbeat rhythms and repetitive lyrics. Instead Devotion's tracks seduce you with thick electronic sounds, beautiful R&B chords and a sultry English voice that's reminiscent of Adele's singing style. The single of the week, "Wildest Moments," is a fair example of what you can expect from the rest of the album.

WARNING: watch your volume levels if you're wearing headphones. Don't be fooled by the quiet, ethereal tweeting of birds. There is so much glorious bass just a few seconds after this track's start. I really, really enjoy these thick, electronic chords and the heavy drums getting me to bob my head. They couple well with the stadium echo effect layered on Jessie's voice. And speaking of her voice: listening to her sing, I feel that miss Ware's choice of genre suits her tone. Her voice isn't terribly bright and poppy, like so many powerful, high-range female vocalists in pop music these days. Instead, she has a lower, thick alto singing voice - it's very pure and, dare I say, kind of sensual. It's well suited to the R&B, trance style of the song (and many others on the album).

Now, I want to talk about how this track is mastered, because it really has impressed me. When you listen to the track with headphones (and you should), Jessie's voice is at the forefront. If you listen closely, you can tell that she isn't pushing her voice, nor singing extremely loud, but the track is so well mixed that she doesn't have to in order to be heard. This also means that you don't have to break out your ear trumpet in order to understand most of the lyrics. The bass in this song has been boosted to extremes, and I love it - it's like a cradle of sound, supporting the rest of the piece. The way the song is mixed, you can hear the accents - piano, ethereal whispers, acoustic guitars - when Jessie wants you to hear them, and at the volume she wants as well.

The more I listen to this song on iTunes, the more I like it. The more I watch the music video, the more I hate it. It really is quite silly, watching her spin round and round like that. But I'll let it slide because I rather enjoy the song. My only complaint is that it seems to be one of the best songs on the album, and I worry that folks will pick up the single for free and leave the rest of the album to rot - a fortunate opportunity for you, free download seeker. But rather unfortunate for Jessie Ware. I think it's worth noting some of the other tracks off the album, Devotion, that I enjoyed listening to: the preposterously 70s feel of "Running" is really cool, and the same goes for "Sweet Talk," while the especially beautiful "Something Inside" really plucks at my heartstrings. If you're looking for something more upbeat, I would give "Imagine It Was Us" a listen. Good songs, all, and a set of fantastic prospects for Jessie Ware's first full-length album, I say. I am definitely a new fan. For this week's free track, "Wildest Moments," I give

4 out of 5.

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