Jessie Ware – That! Feels Good!
The dancefloor Jessie Ware opened on her last album What’s Your Pleasure? shows no sign of closing on her new album. In fact, it’s got even sweatier
Barely 20 seconds into the first track, the cork pops, and the disco ball drops. Across a funky bassline, Jessie Ware makes it abundantly clear that pleasure is her ambition here. Self-assured and in control, she sets the tone for the rest of That! Feels Good! as she brazenly declares: 'Pleasure is a right!' Later, she adds: 'If you’re going to do it, do it well'. And as the bangers keep coming, it’s clear she's doing that and then some.
Liberation and letting loose is the motto of Free Yourself and Pearls, co-written with Clarence Coffee Jr and Sarah Hudson (of Future Nostalgia fame). Free Yourself is pure disco delight while Pearls is nothing short of ecstatic: a sonic headrush of a song dipped in sugary syrup. The pace slows down for the chilled-out Hello Love, a breezy ode to unexpectedly bumping into love like an old friend on the street and completely surrendering to its consequent sensations. 'Hello Love, what you doing round here, I didn’t expect to see you / I got both hands up, it feels so good to see you', she sings while saxophones softly decorate the track.
By now, firmly in the album's mid-section, the groove is relentless in its refusal to let up. A samba inflection invigorates on Begin Again, and against an orchestral backdrop Ware orders her lover to 'give me something good that’s even better than it seems'. The exhilaration accelerates on Freak Me Now, an absolute stand-out on this disco odyssey. Featuring a euphoric refrain reminiscent of Raheem The Dream’s If You Ain’t Got No Money (popularly sampled on Fergie’s Glamorous), it fizzles before exploding into a ferocious call to move, move, just move.
Things cool down but never become uninteresting on Shake the Bottle, where in cutting spoken verses Ware recounts a laundry list of lovers: 'Benny wants what Benny gets, broken hearts and cigarettes / I really liked Jackson but he lived too far away / Eddy was romantic but he never, ever paid'.
Subdued sensuality informs the penultimate offering Lightning, before closer These Lips encapsulates everything this record is about – unabashed sexual expression dressed up and delivered with a delicious dose of disco. That! Feels Good! is a revved-up hedonistic joyride that extols and celebrates the sensual necessity of pleasure. Jessie is firmly in her lane here, and it’s a satisfying drive from start to finish.
Listen to: Free Yourself, Pearls, Freak Me Now