Two years ago, British singer Jessie Ware caught our attention as one of the freshest voices in alternative R&B with her elegant vocals and understated sound highlighted on her acclaimed debut album Devotion (which Lindsay Zoladz named as one one of 2012’s best albums in the Slate Music Club). Since then, Ware hasn’t done much on the music front, appearing only in collaborations with artists like Disclosure, Mayer Hawthorne, and SBTRKT. But now Ware is set to return with a new album later this year and has shared the video for the album’s excellent first single, “Tough Love.”
On Ware’s earlier songs like “Wildest Moments” and “Running,” she demonstrated a soulful style of downtempo pop. With “Tough Love,” produced by BenZel (Benny Blanco and Two Inch Punch), she experiments with even softer atmospheric textures and plays with the tonality in her voice. It’s a warm new-age power ballad, one that’s slow to build, but once it does around the three-minute mark, the song explodes into a gorgeous crescendo of buzzing synths against Ware’s alluring vocals. If you were a fan of Miguel’s “Adorn” (which Ware remixed) or Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” you’ll likely love this, too. “Tough Love” is a convincing sign that Ware may actually outdo her first album with her next.