Jess Glynne - Al­ways In Be­tween

Gay Times Magazine - - REVIEW - Words Nick Levine

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.

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