Jessie Ware – “Midnight” (Singles Going Steady)

"Midnight" brilliantly balances between an atmospheric R&B dream setting and an upbeat, old-school soul chorus. Some hear "Bennie and the Jets".

Spyros Stasis: Since the beginning, Jessie Ware has been set on building a bridge between contemporary R&B and soul music. “Midnight”, her first new release in three years carries down the same path, but Ware appears more energetic and explosive. The track brilliantly balances between an atmospheric R&B dream setting and an upbeat, old-school soul chorus that allows her to explore the full range of her voice. It is an excellent first specimen from her upcoming work, which further raises expectations. [8/10]

Jordan Blum: Oddly enough, the music kind of reminds me of Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” in terms of piano chords and rhythm. Am I the only one? Anyway, outside of that, it’s another case of it being good on its own but also sounding like a lot of other things. She’s certainly a strong vocalist — and the backing singers fit well — but it reminds me of countless other artists too, both thematically and sonically. I feel the same way about the video; it’s artsy and cryptic enough to be interesting, but it doesn’t really add anything special and it conjures too many similar approaches. [7/10]

Ian Rushbury: If you’re looking for something edgier than Demi Lovato, but not as scary as PJ Harvey, then Jessie Ware is perfect for you. “Midnight” steals the staccato rhythm of “Benny and the Jets”, floats a pop vocal over it and is wrapped up with a deep and meaningful promo video. Back in the ’80s in the UK, you couldn’t turn around without bumping into an earnest female singer-songwriter — Jessie Ware is bringing that back. A nice, detailed arrangement enhances the song and Ware sings it well. She could be the new Tori Amos for the Taylor Swift generation. [6/10]

Chris Ingalls: The first part of the song is interestingly arranged, with a creepy minor-key atmosphere looming over Ware’s piercing, Kate Bush-inspired vocals. When the beat kicks in, the song is transformed into sparse, organic retro funk territory, with the piano inviting comparisons to “Bennie and the Jets,” of all things. It’s a warm, inviting vibe, but Ware’s voice is the star here. [7/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Climb into the back seat and switch on the tape deck: Jessie Ware’s “Midnight” is a make-out anthem for hopeless romantics everywhere. Retro synths put together a simple, dreamy melody, and Ware’s extraordinary voice hits soulful highs. The final product is a little generic, but it has an undercurrent of strength and warmth that give it staying power and make it one that anyone who has ever been irrationally in love can relate to. Besides that, it’s just great to hear Ware’s voice again, more passionate than ever. [8/10]

John Garratt: Here’s a heavily overproduced song that will not be stuck in your head a month from now, let alone a year. And that high, gasping whisper that finds her repeatedly going out of her range? Well, alright! I’ve already forgotten what the hook is supposed to be. [2/10]

Chris Thiessen: A powerhouse vocal on a somewhat haunting soul pop track that pulls elements from Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” and Beyonce’s “Formation”. Pretty standard in terms of the genre, however. [6/10]

SCORE: 6.29