“I don’t think I’ve been losing my mind,” Jessie Ware jokes while reflecting on the buildup to the release of her hyper-anticipated new album, Glasshouse. “But it feels like this kind of thing that, you’re working toward a date, and it feels really bizarre and unreal.”
If she seems flustered, it might be because Ware’s schedule is stacked. Though that’s nothing new for the singer—she’s spent the last five years as one of the more up-and-coming of pop’s up-and-coming stars.
“Now [the album] is here, and it reminds you why we do this,” she says. “It feels like a celebration … Just to be in touch with the fans, with them tweeting me. It feels like reality now, not just a hypothetical release date, you know what I mean?”
Well, no. Ware is in a rare state of creative energy, and not many people could really relate to her process. That’s how she’s able to release such consistently excellent music,
and Glasshouse is no exception. But this time around, not only did Ware’s well of inspiration grow even deeper, but her music also got a lot more honest.
Ware became a mother while recording parts of Glasshouse, an experience she says transformed her in ways both expected and unexpected. Far from creating newer and harder demands on her artistic life, she felt energized to start creating again.
“I think actually that my brain being so scattered and having to think about a lot of different things, this became a place where I could go to fix my head a little,” she says of the recording studio. “That was kind of an escape for me too, but behind that was a fierce drive to make it work.”
Instead of distracting from her passion as an artist, the new stage in life galvanized it.
“I think I’ve got more of a reason now to be an artist,” she says. “I’ve got somebody to kind of impress and inspire. I want to show [my daughter] that if you work hard, things pay off. I think my work ethic is far more driven and focused since I have a baby.”
That work ethic shows, as Glasshouse is, in many ways, Ware’s most successful effort yet. It mixes the tempered patience her fans have come to know her for with a newfound bracing of honesty that feels like a relief after a career built on tension. It’s so honest, in fact, that Ware admits she was a little hesitant to record one song, “Sam.” It took the encouragement of her writing partner, pop superstar Ed Sheeran, to talk her into it.
“He kind of settled me by just saying, ‘I think if it makes you feel uncomfortable it’s a good thing, and people haven’t heard you speak like this before, so maybe take the risk and see how it happens,’” she remembers. “I think that risk has actually paid off. I think people—from what I’ve gathered—enjoy hearing something a bit more personal and more direct.”
She’s right. “Sam” is one of the greatest achievements in Ware’s career, and points to a new, thrilling direction. With her first two albums, Ware felt like an artist on the rise. With Glasshouse, it seems like she’s here to stay—a confident artist who has come into her own. But Ware’s real fans know she’s earned her new sense of confidence.
“They’ve been there from the start,” Ware says. “They’re ready to ride or die. I’d like to think that my music invites the kind of people that I’d like to hang out with. They’re really fun, my crowd, and we have real laughs at shows. I give a lot of myself in my shows. Maybe that’s made them devoted.”