Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Jessie Ware – Overtime

Yes, Jessie, we like it when you do house music, please keep doing that, yes, thank you.


Thomas Inskeep: Now, this is more like it: Ware gets back on the dancefloor with this heavy house track, co-produced by Bicep and Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford. This isn’t of the early ’90s house revival so hot in the UK now, though; this goes all the way back to the halcyon days of Frankie Knuckles at the Warehouse in Chicago. Ware lets you know what’s gonna happen (“Baby, when we kiss, [it’s] gonna tear the roof off”), and is perfectly in sync (in tone and lyrics as much as rhythmically) with the music.

Alfred Soto: Whenever Jessie Ware takes her introspection for a turn on the dance floor, the beats open expressive possibilities (see “Imagine It Was Us,” the extra track highlight of Devotion). On this banger it isn’t just a lover she gets down with — it’s a shopworn title conceit. Why she didn’t continue in the “Imagine It Was Us” or “Confess to Me” direction I’m not sure. Perhaps she thinks “adult” material is progress.

Katherine St Asaph: The obvious comparison is “Imagine It Was Us,” Jessie Ware’s only great track, but the better comparison is Disclosure collab “Confess to Me” or MNEK’s “Tongue“: tense yearning, compared to tasteful. “Overtime” isn’t as weird as the Disclosure track, but almost monomaniacally straightforward: heavily reverbed percussion, relentless synths, low spoken word, dramatic strings. The track isn’t perfect — “Rhythm is a Dancer” lurks a few steps from the melody, and the chorus ends a little flat — but unlike 90% of Ware’s recent music, this evokes genuine frisson, rather than something that’s been air-dried, sprayed with matte paint and pinned to a department store display.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Really makes you wonder what Jessie Ware could’ve been had she committed to the dance music route instead of becoming fodder for the hipper post-Adeleian adult contemporary crowd. At this point, listeners have been subjected to her voice for so long that they’re familiar with the full scope of its dullness. This is ostensibly why listening to “Overtime” is more tiresome than energizing. But in reality, this isn’t too different from her typical work: there’s a strong reliance on the instrumentation to transmit any and all emotion, and Ware is sort of just there to play her part.

Julian Axelrod: I’m more sympathetic to Jessie Ware’s Ed Sheeran phase than most, but it’s a relief to hear her back in her wheelhouse: sweaty, unrelenting R&B-house with a decidedly British frigidity. The busy drums threaten to overpower Ware, but she emerges victorious with the same weapon she uses to wrestle ballads into submission — her pained, passionate, perfect voice.

Pedro João Santos: “This is no Glasshouse 2,” the piercing combo of snares and cymbals announces, and the drilling synth bass accentuates. This is the rare occasion in which working overtime doesn’t require union contract agreements (and the title might be more than metaphorical, as she’s been touring and podcasting, etc., while the last LP has barely been out for a year). It’s something to replenish the mind and ignite a new (artistic) fire. Or put it out, if we consider the aflame evocations of romance in Glasshouse: it produced some career peaks and a seamless listen, but one too many tracks parked at the MOR. From Jessie, who recalls Oh No-era Jessy Lanza on this track, you might expect something more adventurous; that’s the accurate result of this superb, unremitting house-pop call-to-arms.

William John: Last year, Jessie Ware began podcasting with her mother, inviting guests around to her house — the likes of Clara Amfo, Sadiq Khan and Nigella Lawson have made appearances — for a meal, and recording the ensuing conversation. Listening to the way Ware playfully teases her mother as they talk about desert island meals and culinary propriety has inspired me to throw my own dinner parties, which I find fulfilling and an antidote to the loneliness often involved in “going out.” “Dinner party music” is a descriptor that’s been attributed to Ware’s oeuvre since the beginning of her career, and especially to her most recent record Glasshouse, perhaps her cosiest and most sentimental album, in spite of its severe title. It’s a term that suggests something pleasant and non-irritating, but also bland, as if it’s only worth hearing in bits, between mouthfuls. It’s an unfair term I think, because dinner parties shouldn’t be bland — they should be filled with vibrant laughter, plates of warm vegetables slathered with butter and salt, simple pleasures, invigorating discussion. It sort of makes me think that those that use “dinner party music” as a pejorative just haven’t been to any good dinner parties. Certainly they’ve not been to a dinner party where, once dessert is over, the chairs are shifted aside and the highlights of Overpowered are thrown on at a loud volume. I’ve no doubt that, on certain occasions, this is precisely what happens chez Ware when the Table Manners microphones are turned off, and “Overtime” and its hollered, dazzling disco chorus seems to confirm my theory.

Ian Mathers: I do like this, a lot, but it’s borrowing at least some of my affection for it from the fact that it keeps getting Hot Chip’s “Night and Day” (similar burbling background, similar hardworking sentiments) looping through my head instead of “Overtime” itself. I actually had to go play that song again to refocus on this song properly, and sure enough there’s more than enough room for both in my listening.

Alex Clifton: I really like this, but I kept wondering what RuPaul would do with this backing track, which ended up being more of a distraction than I wanted it to be. Needless to say, I’d kill for this to be a Lip-Sync For Your Life on Drag Race.

Danilo Bortoli: Jessie Ware is usually at her best when she finally embraces the house vocalist she is destined to be, but “Overtime” succeeds for other reasons. Here, she finally mingles her initial work’s penchant for pensive, reflexive, soulful pop — the musical equivalent to a beautiful yet harmless painting standing over at a museum — and her most recent output, the cathartic pop whose emotional outpouring needs immediate release (Bicep produced this for a reason). It’s the stylistic crossover that feels logical when given thought, yet pleasantly unexpected. For the first time in a while, her whispers are not only romantic suggestions. They come off as a command. 

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: A lesson in the power of vibe and attention to detail — there’s not all that much going on here, and the pre-chorus doesn’t hit quite as big as it clearly aspires to, but every little moment of “Overtime” feels perfectly calibrated to conjure up hazy memories of nights out, the best moments rising up like synth pulses and the most vivid sticking like the almost-whispered chorus.

Reader average: [7.6] (5 votes)

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4 Responses to “Jessie Ware – Overtime”

  1. “”Imagine It Was Us,” Jessie Ware’s only great track”

    I don’t think so! Running, Sweet Talk, Tough Love, Wildest Moments (!!!), 110%, Midnight, etc.

    This one is good but not even close to her greatest.

  2. “Running” is massively overrated; “Sweet Talk” and “110%” are fine; “Wildest Moments” and “Tough Love” are her descent into The New Boring; “Midnight” is very good but not great.

  3. My affection for “Running” rests on formal terms: the deployment of the guitar, the synth horn blasts, the falsetto harmonies. I like “Wildest Moments” fine as Shirley Bassey camp at karaoke night. “Taking in Water” and “Champagne Kisses” are my favorites of her Big Ballads.

    I have no use for the third album, “Your Domino” aside.

  4. I want to attend one of William’s dinner parties. Great blurb!