Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Jessie Ware – Imagine It Was Us

Now that that’s out of the way…


Katherine St Asaph: I can’t believe this is the US single; I’d have sworn it was Jessie Ware’s lightning reaction to Disclosure blowing up in the UK, or at least to True. You’d have a hard time finding better recent inspirations, though, and the older ones are equally amazing. Off the top: “Are You That Somebody” (there’s that green envy), “Rock With You,” “I Wanna Be Down,” “Overpowered,” “Into the Groove,” all my past crushes. I’m going to love putting this on repeat one day.

Alfred Soto: Smoky and bracing like good bourbon, Ware’s voice can inhabit any melodrama, especially with a beat this insistent. She’s a master of a kind of suspended ambivalence; she basks, she suffers, she emotes. Give her an acoustic setting though and we might get John Major-era Annie Lennox.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: The first few times I was drawn back to “Imagine It Was Us”, it was to continue a detached admiration of Ware’s music. She has often seemed to me as too studied, her songs effective but closed-off even as they dealt with heartbreak and elation. “Imagine” sounds like a victory lap (it essentially leads the re-release of “Devotion”) in its deep pulse of a beat, a real contrast to how her other songs felt like forlorn takes on club music. On those first few listens, however, I had negated the possibility that a recitation of the hopeful title would play into the confidence of the music. When I finally discovered the appearance of the hazily-tracked singing of “Imagine it was us…” it felt like a private thought had been publicly announced, the way it trickled out over the chorus. It’s a little sloppy, a little unprepared, and it captures a true spur-of-the-moment feeling. The moment you realise what Ware’s blurted out, a challenge arises in how to consider it — what do you do with that information? What do you say? Do you imagine too? She wants the subject of the song to consider what she’s saying. And perhaps that is what I felt was missing from Ware — realising that honesty is quick and messy as well as drawn-out and considered.

Jonathan Bogart: I think I am always probably going to melt under the twin engines of Jessie Ware’s soft, sultry voice and a fuzzed-out guitar pretending heroics over a bed of quiet electro funk.

Scott Mildenhall: Not much like anything on the original release of Devotion, the production almost verging into The 2 Bears’ “LOL 90s” territory, and that doesn’t seem the greatest fit for her vocals. It’s an incongruity that fades slightly after multiple listens, but not completely. All the previous singles would have scored at least [8], but not this, a good song by the wrong artist.

Brad Shoup: The flanged flickers and sanctified altos are a fine way to bring the album to a close. Ware seems a bit sleepy, but maybe that’s due to going through the motions of cosmopolitan house.

Will Adams: “Imagine It Was Us” brings me back to age six, when I heard “Together Again,” thought to myself, “This is awesome!” and loved house music ever since. It’s the simple construction that does it: a standard 4/4 kick with no-nonsense hi-hats and claps, a repeated bass gesture, and a good ol’ synth pad. Best of all is how Jessie just sits on top of it all, poised and elegant. The flashback alone warrants the score.

David Lee: I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for 90s, disco-inflected house beats, even if I’m aware that they pander to my #rememberthe90s sensibilities. But this doesn’t strike me as clamoring for nostalgia points. Jessie’s silken voice bleeds into a cloud of thrumming synths and stuttering hi-hats, suffusing the track with a kind of yearning that builds between two strangers eying each other across a hazy, strobe-lit dance floor. Here, the ecstasy, rather than coming in “build up and drop” bursts, swells to a sustained throb that lingers. No wonder she’ll spend all night hoping to maintain that kind of blissful momentum.

Anthony Easton: I love the languid, bored, obsessive pleasure of Jessie Ware’s voice. I love its ambiguity — how the vocals work against the optimism. How she sings, “Fantasy, tell me, thinking about me” like some lost Apollonia trip. I love that it’s a lost artifact of disco in some spaces and ’80s R&B in others, but strikes me as now as anything I’ve heard. I love how it stops and starts but doesn’t jar. Its smoothness is fantastic. Just a brilliant concoction.

Reader average: [8.95] (21 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

12 Responses to “Jessie Ware – Imagine It Was Us”

  1. two things: 1) Daniel OTM and 2) fuck it, this is a [10]

  2. Katherine, yours was the one that stood out for me. It actually helped me to, for the first time, understand what Jessie is going for.

  3. quiet but super-powerful.

  4. OTM?

  5. On the mark.

  6. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA i always thought it was on the money HAHAHAHAHA

  7. …it isn’t on the money?

  8. Oh dear, am I the old fogey who thinks LOL means lots of love? At least they’re equivalent expressions.

  9. ahhhhh I read online that it was “one track mind” hahaha! Thanks tho Katherine. :)

  10. It can be either. Er, now it can be a third thing.

  11. i’ve always read it as on the mark

  12. .. it’s money