There is a growing trend in talent development in the music industry that is skewing the playing field for rising artists. In a viral system with proven results like Australian pop singer Lorde, record companies scout young singers as early as (or earlier than) age 12, spending half a decade nurturing and sculpting young talent into seemingly spontaneous rises to fame in their mid- to late- teens.
There’s nothing innately wrong in this exaggerated model of talent development. But it’s a little disheartening to the idealists. It eats away at the concept of fame, as an organic and transcendental life that’s out there waiting for the seemingly average person – if they could just give voice to the latent talent they’ve been hiding.
Jessie Ware is one living solution to a music industry sucking the dreams out of pop music.
She stumbled into a prolific and growing music career slowly and organically. Starting out as a journalist after studying English at the University of Sussex, she made her first foray into singing doing live backup vocals for Jack Peñate. After a bandmate introduced her to musician and producer SBTRKT, she collaborated on his song “Nervous” in 2010. Ware went on to collaborate with SBTRKT’s main live singer Sampha on “Valentine,” and has continued her artistic relationship with recent SBTRKT collaborations like “Runaway.” Jessie Ware’s career was off to a running start by the time she released her chart-topping debut album, “Devotion.”
Despite the common pitfall of newly famous artists following up their career-making debuts, which could best be called “taking on too much too soon,” Jessie Ware has continued to produce quality music with a mix of talent, humility, and impeccable taste.
Her latest album – Tough Love, released in October 2014, is both a tasteful and confident foray into what will be an illustrious singing career. Marked by her trademark eye for great producers to accompany her tracks, the album is chalk full of catchy and tasteful compositions.
The title track, “Tough Love,” is an epic medley of breathy vocals and sprawling reverb over a quiet and hopeful production from Benzel. Garnishing millions of plays on YouTube and Spotify, and catchy remixes abound, it is quickly becoming the singer’s trademark anthem.
But it is lesser-known and far stranger songs on the album that speak to Ware’s vision and creative confidence.
The ninth track on the album, “Keep On Lying,” is an all-at-once haunting and euphoric tune that might make you uncomfortable at first. The rich barbershop-quartet-style chorus harmonies fuse surprisingly with an indescribably strange production of fuzzy vintage organs, punctuated by distorted claps. It’s a truly unique and intoxicating sound – like some distant and outlandish memory of a doo-wop singing group and a juggling clown performing behind a soulful, impassioned voice that somehow makes this creepy music circus feel right.
Albums like Tough Love are an encouraging reminded that pop music still has the potential for originality and creative exploration. And it just feels good to know she got here all on her own.
Check out the tracks mentioned below.
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