Jessie Ware has already come a long way since recording vocals for the likes of Joker, SBTRKT and Jack Penate, proving those initial appearances were stepping stones to what could well be a very long and successful solo career.
Contrary to many singers who have featured on floor fillers, Jessie has thoughts which go beyond the realms of dance music. Debut album 'Devotion' is a sign of her pop-soul ambitions, taking cues from era defining divas such as Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan and Sade.
Never is this more apparent than on 'Sweet Talk', a vibrant R&B gem carved from yesteryear’s classic building blocks, delivered with the confidence of someone who is far deeper into her career than a debut album. On the title track, Jessie emerges through a warm, smoky haze, her voice smouldering as it continues to throughout.
Jessie makes no bones about wanting to emulate her heroes and there’s plenty of proof here that she is capable of more than mere imitation. But if that's the classic side of Jessie, then what about the contemporary?
Production from Julio Bashmore on '110%' brings a very modern focus to proceedings, with its chopped Big Pun sample and soft electronic bubbles, while 'Wildest Moments' is something of a standard bearer for pop ballads of today.
There is a nagging sense, though, that Devotion could be more expansive in places. On songs like 'No To Love' drums are clipped and cymbals flattened. Things seem too tight and restrained and, sometimes, you just want to hear producer Dave Okumu of The Invisible cease control and unleash Jessie to experiment vocally more. Moreover, there are brief moments - ‘Still Love Me’ and ‘Something Inside’ - that seem like poor relations in comparison to the songs they follow.
Fortunately it does all come together more often than not though; 'Running' is still a stunner, months after its first airplay, along with the rousing, dramatic 'Night Light' and dark, sultry ‘Swan Song’.
What’s most encouraging about Devotion for Jessie Ware - and for all of us - is that, even at this early high standard, her ceiling is still some way in the distance.