From now on, if you walk into a nightclub and feel the liberating pulse of disco and dance in your bones, don’t be surprised if it’s a track off of UK singer Jessie Ware’s new album That! Feels Good!.
Jessie Ware’s career has been an interesting one to follow up until now. Through work with UK DJs like SBTRKT and Disclosure to small pop-soul hits like “Wildest Moments” (and big hits such as “Say You Love Me”), she doesn’t seem to be the kind of artist that would be considered “underrated.” Hell, she’s worked with the likes of Nicki Minaj, Ed Sheeran, and A$AP Rocky just to name a few. However, she has not received the big commercial success globally that a well-studied and truly consistent pop artist like her should receive.
Although I am not as enamored with her 2010s output as her newer albums, they are solid pop records with an R&B twist. It seemed that Ware wasn’t too in love with that sound either, because she came out with What’s Your Pleasure? in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. One of my favorite albums of all time, she completely freed herself from the sound of her previous work and made an album that was a glamorous and exciting ode to all forms of dance music. Pop, disco, funk, house, and electro fused with her usual style made for a body of work that begged for a visit to the club, even if a raging virus lingered outside the house. She truly spread her wings and let out all of her influences to make the best dance-pop record of the decade so far (sorry Future Nostalgia). It’s flirtatious, inviting, and nocturnal and I have had it in heavy rotation since it came out.
Now, back to her newest effort That! Feels Good!. After What’s Your Pleasure? became the biggest album of her career, it was wise to continue on with the feel-good dance sound on her new album, this time dialed up to new maximalist and luxurious heights, and with a lot more horn sections. Singles “Free Yourself” and “Pearls” are unabashed ‘70s disco anthems with a modern twist. Both songs describe the need for freedom and self-expression through a sexual and carefree lens, the big theme that flows throughout the album. The opening track “That! Feels Good!” opens with a collage of voices lightly saying “that feels good” and blossoms into a Stevie Wonder-inspired funk tune. “Begin Again” is one of Jessie Ware’s best songs period, a constantly building disco wall-of-sound that calls back to the biggest bops of ABBA. “Freak Me Now” is house music that sounds ready for the dancefloor with its groovy bassline and wah guitar. Ware breaks away from the classic sound of the album with “Lightning”, a cooldown that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Ellie Goulding or Halsey album. Finally, “These Lips” brings the brass and the groove back to close out the album, even if it is more of an underwhelming finish than What’s Your Pleasure?’s “Remember Where You Are.”
With That! Feels Good!, I have a good feeling that this will be the time that Jessie Ware finally gets the recognition and success that she deserves. That! Feels Good! feels like her ultimate statement on freedom, a call to action for all the people in the world to express themselves through dance, sex, and fun. An album that feels so good that you can’t help but indulge in its glamorous take on pop music, it will surely be a part of my soundtrack for the summer and seasons to come.