Jess Glynne - Always In Between
Despite having seven number one singles to her name, more than any other British solo female, Jess Glynne still feels a bit underrated. Her relatively low-key personality is partly responsible – she lacks the knockout charisma and gift of the gab that defines some pop stars, though she has spoken pretty plainly about not wanting to be called bisexual. “I’m never going to put a label on my sexuality and people should never feel uncomfortable about who they love,” she said in a 2015 interview.
But it’s also because her music isn’t always as characterful as her fantastic voice, which – no shade intended - has a certain goat-like quality. Co-written with proven hitmakers including Steve Mac (Ed Sheeran), Toby Gad (Beyoncé) and Starsmith (Ellie Goulding), this second album is an efficient collection of mid-tempo pop songs designed to rack up plenty of streams and shed-loads of airplay. Even when its motives are transparent, the results can be effective: current single All I Am clearly apes her previous hit Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself, but that doesn’t stop it being a decent handbag house banger. Thursday, co-written with Ed Sheeran, is a very on-trend self-acceptance song that should resonate with many listeners. “I won’t wear makeup on Thursday, because who I am is enough,” Glynne sings stirringly.
At times, Glynne’s plain-speaking lyrics can slip into cliché: I’ll Be There features the almost comically banal couplet: “When you still can’t feel the rhythm of your heart / And you see your spirit fading in the dark.” But elsewhere, her relatable quality is enormously appealing. When she sings “I’m breaking my silence ‘cause I’ve had a few” on current single All I Am, she’s everyone who’s finally piped up and said their piece after a couple of confidence-boosting vodka sodas. Rollin’, an Afrobeat-flavoured jam tucked away at the end, features the surprisingly salty hook: “Fuck your games, this ain’t the way I’m rollin’!” It’s a shame Glynne doesn’t let rip like this more often.
The result is an album that sounds reasonably contemporary but never cool, whose catchy songs don’t always stay lodged in your brain for as long as they’re supposed to. Always in Between will probably continue Glynne’s run of chart success, but its slightly tentative title feels all too appropriate.