It’s fair to suggest that it’s been a pretty crazy year for Jessie Ware. Despite being surprisingly absent from the BBC Sound Of 2012, she’s gone on to win plaudits, critical acclaim and one of those all important Mercury Music Prize nominations. As well, of course, as our hearts, with ‘Devotion’ sitting pretty on most sensible Album Of The Year polls.
As we catch up with the south Londoner, she’s in a nervous mood, being that this is the day before that all important Mercury announcement. Whilst Alt-J were undeniably worthy winners, there was a definite expression of disappointment in certain quarters that Jessie didn’t win, but for Ware herself, she’s just relieved to find people like the album, it seems. “It’s mad, and it’s brilliant,” she positively gushes, “I’m just really happy that people have got it, you never know. I mean, I’m really happy with it, but you never know how other people are going to take it. So it’s a real honour to have people say that it’s one of their favourite albums of the year, or whatever. That’s so nice.”
Of course, there’s probably someone out there who’s able to psychoanalyse that statement and come back with a conclusion that other people’s opinions mattering suggests some kind of self doubt or something. Which, to be fair, Jessie herself has never entirely denied; she’s openly spoken about her lack of confidence in her abilities as a performer, and hiding behind acts like Jack Penate (her old school mate) and SBTRKT prior to her own solo outing. “I didn’t have enough confidence to ever say I was a singer, or go talk to record labels or whatever,” She confides, “being able to feature on dance tracks, it eased me in, helped me figure out what I wanted to do and what sort of music I wanted to make.”
It’s a good job she took that time then. In ‘Devotion’, she’s created an album that beautifully consolidates soulful, retro vocals with warm synths and an R&B twist. The standout track, arguably, was single ‘Wildest Moments’, an ode to her best friend. “She’s pissed me off so I’m just like… hmmm…” Jessie chuckles, “But she loves it, she has her trigger fingers up every time she’s in the audience and it gets played.”
There must come a difficulty, when your first forays into publicly broadcasting your songwriting skills are so easily identifiable to the protagonists involved though. “I did have to tell her straight away.” Ware confesses, “I like to hide behind a few metaphors, behind fantasy. You know, pretend that it’s not about me, sometimes definitely.”
Confiding that she’s already considering her follow up (“I’m writing all the time,” she confirms), Jessie’s plans for next year currently include fitting in as many festival appearances as time allows. “I don’t know which ones I’m going to play yet, but definitely,” she tells us, “And hopefully there’ll be some people that have heard the album and liked it and want to come and see me. I kind of started performing live with this album, performing at festivals, which was fun because people didn’t know it, so I had to try and win them over.” This time around, with ‘Devotion’ already living up to it’s title, it’s a fair bet that those festival crowds will already be won.
Jessie Ware’s ‘Devotion’ is at number 16 in DIY’s Albums Of 2012. Find out more here.