Music

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


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors


David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Music

Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.

Film

NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.

Music

South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.

Music

Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Books

Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.

Music

Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Music

Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.

Music

Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Music

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.