Jessie Ware, "Glasshouse" (Interscope Records)
No doubt about it, Jessie Ware can sing. The London-born singer-songwriter has a versatile voice that can whisper and soar against a musical palette drawing from soul, R&B, jazz and pop.
"Glasshouse," her third album, finds that powerful voice in search of a distinctive sound.
The 12 songs in the collection effectively showcase Ware's range. She can go from a murmur to a scream against a disco bassline in lead single "Midnight." She can croon soulfully on "Thinking About You." She can bathe the listener in a soothing balm on the lush "Stay Awake for Me."
In lyrics partly inspired by the birth of her first child last year, Ware reflects on love and loss. It's not exactly Amy Winehouse-level soul baring but it delivers on the seductive, bossa nova-tinged "Selfish Love" ("Why do I do these things/I break you down just to get my way?")
Ware is clearly an artist with personality, but at times seems overwhelmed by the album's busy production. "Alone" is a catchy ballad honed to within an inch of its life. There's more freedom on "Your Domino," an appealing slice of Eurodisco fun.
The album is most effective when it slows down — as it does on the aptly named "Slow Me Down" and on "Hearts," which lets the emotion in Ware's voice shine through.
Album closer "Sam," a lovely acoustic ballad about family co-written with Ed Sheeran, has a tenderness and directness that much of the album lacks. Sometimes simple is best.