Glasshouse is an emotional and technical masterpiece

Promotional photo by Jessie Ware
Promotional photo by Jessie Ware

Jessie Ware album review

By Joshua Toevs, Contributor




Glasshouse is the third record from UK contemporary pop artist Jessie Ware. She released Devotion in 2012, a record that was sonically beautiful and lyrically mature. There was depth and layers to each record and each song hit in a different way. Jessie followed that up with Tough Love in 2014, a project that was a lot more mainstream and felt a bit flat in comparison to her debut. Thankfully on this new album, Ware is focused, thoughtful, and as emotionally charged as ever.

This focus is evident right from the beginning. “Midnight” features a synth sound that is absolutely infectious and plays a perfect complement to the subtle drum arrangement and the piercing keyboard loop. Ware’s vocals are very strong, showing the power and range that she has while also displaying moments of beautiful restraint. This song is all about the desire for another. It is sleek, sexy, and sweet.

Love is all over this record, as is the norm for Ware—except this love seems a lot more mature, as at this point she is married and has a child. That isn’t to say there aren’t some moments of young love on this album. “First Time” starts with a gorgeous drum piece that fits perfectly with the soft guitar loop. Ware speaks about falling in love all over again with her husband, just like the first time. She wants that fire to still be there and to not have this relationship become mundane or safe. Vocally, Ware is a lot more subdued, but it complements the production perfectly.

“Selfish Love” is an absolute bop of a record. Its composition from an instrumental standpoint sounds eerily similar to The Cardigans’ “Lovefool.” This is a good example of an interpolation as it feels familiar while still sounding fresh (take note Taylor Swift). “Selfish Love” features a funky bassline and Caribbean drum samples. Ware speaks on a love in which she was really only in it for her own gain both emotionally and sexually. It is the outlier from the rest of the album’s message, but it is executed flawlessly.

There are so many other great moments on this album. The electric guitar is powerful and memorable on “Thinking About You” and it helps add a strong component to a soft-sounding song. Where that song is punchy, “Alone” is on the other end of the spectrum. It is a little more electronic in its arrangement, with the keys and drums having a more artificial sound to them. Jessie is in her lane on this song lyrically as she sings about getting her love home with her because her husband knocks her off her feet and she loves being with him.

Near the end of the record, a lot of the songs take a lighter and more somber tone. They are almost exclusively ballads. The best of the bunch is “Hearts,” a song that is very minimalistic from a production standpoint. That minimalism gives Ware’s vocals center stage. The song is about a love gone awry—not just any love but a deep one, as the lyrics are dripping with heartbreak:

“If I could ask a smoking gun, how it feels to hurt someone /
I would just ask you /
If I could ask someone I love, how it feels to lose someone /
I would just ask you.”

The album is capped off by “Sam,” a song about her husband of the same name. The song is a stripped-back acoustic track with Ware wearing her heart on her sleeve, and is about not only her love for Sam but also the love for her expected child. Ware is concerned about if she will be as good of a mother as her own was, while also being thankful for the fact that her husband is nothing like how her father was.  The amount of love and compassion that Ware shows for Sam is inspiring. If you have watched interviews with Ware where he comes up, there is this light that goes off and you can see the love written all over her face before she even talks. True love is something that is hard to find, and as someone who currently has that, for this song and really just all the songs that go into detail of love on this record, I completely resonated with the sentiment.

I think that is the reason this album is so good to me. The love is real. With each word, you can feel just how impactful Sam is to Ware’s life. On a lot of pop records from bigger names, the love feels really surface level. Here on this album Ware is real and raw with her emotions. There is almost nothing bad to say about this album. It is a perfect combo of her first two records while adding more variety both lyrically and from a production standpoint. If you are looking for an album to throw on for a romantic night or just when you are feeling in a loving mood, this should be that album.