South- Londoner Jessie Ware’s debut album Devotion was beloved by fans and critics alike back in 2012; two years later the expectation for her follow up is extremely high and leaves Jessie Ware in an extremely daunting position. However Jessie Ware can rest easy knowing that despite the odds stacked against it, Tough Love is a fantastic follow-up; a silky-smooth and soulful pop album that showcases just how much talent she has.
Much like her debut, the album focuses around the complications of love, perhaps looking back on Ware’s past experiences with her, now, husband childhood sweetheart Sam Burrows. From the outset title track ‘Tough Love’ sets the soulful mood as well as oozing understated class and sophistication, much like the other ten tracks. It’s the sort of album you’d expect to hear playing at a dinner party; the sound is so refined, smooth and soulful that it’s pure bliss to listen to and leaves you at ease.
Tracks ‘Cruel’, ‘Keep On Lying’, ‘Kind Of…Sometimes…Maybe’ and ‘Want Your Feeling’, the latter of which was co-written with Dev Hynes, follow more of an electro-pop sound. The contrast between this electronic style and romantic, slower tracks like ‘Say You Love Me’ and ‘Sweetest Song’ creates diversity throughout the album. What hones in all these styles is Jessie Ware’s soulful voice which achieves a prominence that was lost under the electronic beats of Devotion, here we see the true level of emotion that Ware’s voice can portray.
Tough Love is an overriding success that sees Jessie Ware grow up, a new host of collaborations with acclaimed singers, songwriters and producers (ranging from top-40 king Ed Sheeran to R&B star Miguel) and the true power of her voice. This album suggests an exciting and fruitful future for one of the most exciting acts on the pop front – long live Jessie Ware and her enchanting, soulful pop.