Jessie Ware performing at Groningen in 2012Rene Passet/Flickr

Since the release of her debut album Devotion in 2012, Jessie Ware has cemented herself as a potent force within pop music. Her credentials are stellar, from opening Harry Styles’ Love On Tour in Chicago, to writing for Ed Sheeran and featuring on Nicki Minaj’s album The Pinkprint in 2014. Her acclaim has been recognised with numerous Brit nominations, such as “British Album of the Year” in 2021 for her previous record, What’s Your Pleasure?. Ware’s latest release, That! Feels Good!, is an ode to freedom of expression featuring vivacious pop tracks laced with relentless discotheque euphoria.

The opening track, ‘That! Feels Good!’, is a sleek electro-funk number which invites listeners into the hazy, shimmering lights of an eighties club, setting the stage for the rest of the album. Lyrically, Ware lucidly expresses a desire to let go and embrace what brings her joy. Both literally and metaphorically, the record remains unrestrained and free flowing in its lyricism and production. Multiple voices chant “the pleasure is a right”, underlining the indulgent hedonism of the track.

After this glitter-fuelled opener comes an anthemic banger with a strutting piano part foregrounded in the accompaniment. The confident pace of ‘Free Yourself’, combined with its exploration of Ware’s higher registers, produce an infectious electricity. This is bolstered in the next song, ‘Pearls’: a bouncy, Donna Summer-esque track in which Ware reaches even higher during the chorus. In addition to the vocal agility on ‘Pearls’, the enrapturing hook (“And shake it till the pearls fall off”) is a classic disco-pop earworm.

‘Begin Again’, a lyrically pensive yet upbeat track, charts new ground thematically in order to question society’s relationship with technology. Ware asks a succession of rhetorical questions (“Why do my realities take over all my dreams?/Why does all the purest love get filtered through machines?”), which address how human relationships are shaped by technology. In the chorus, a flurry of descending piano notes contrasts with the strutting piano of ‘Free Yourself’. After four positive tracks, ‘Begin Again’ shouldn’t work as well as it does. However, by exploring new themes, Ware gives the album variety while ensuring that the track doesn’t feel out of place.

Whereas ‘Begin Again’ diverges lyrically from the rest of the album, ‘Freak Me Now’, a brisk French house track, deviates sonically from the disco-pop anthems preceding it. Overall, it is fresh and fun. Ware maintains her tongue-in-cheek playfulness throughout its riotous chorus (“Baby, keep heating me up/Oh, no, don’t you go cool me down”) and the post-chorus, which matches the vivacity of a night at the club.


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In contrast to the refreshing sonic change of ‘Freak Me Now’, ‘Lightning’, a mid-tempo R&B track, feels ill-suited to such a disco pop-heavy album. There is nothing noticeably wrong with the song. Lyrically, it mirrors the themes of ‘That! Feels Good’, with Ware ruminating about her lover (“You are the lightning in my life”). Yet, it sounds disjointed when compared to the cohesiveness of ‘Freak Me Now’. The pseudo-trap snare, which is present throughout, seems a peculiarly modern choice for an album which leans heavily towards the seventies and eighties.

Nevertheless, That! Feels Good! is a highly successful body of work that wears its source material on its sleeve, and provides a relentless injection of disco-pop that will have listeners playing it on repeat.