Photo Credit: Jack Grange
Could the timing possibly have been worse when Jessie Ware released her disco tribute What’s Your Pleasure? during the COVID-pandemic? Probably, yes. In fact, the album became a big success, giving people an excellent excuse to shake their hips indoors during the lockdowns. The album reached the Top 3 on the U.K. Albums Chart and was awarded ‘Album of the Year’ by influential YouTube reviewer Anthony Fantano. As Jessie Ware returns three years later with That! Feels Good! she’s celebrating the official end of the global COVID-19 pandemic by putting on the sleekest dress her wardrobe had to offer, and shaking her pearls off to the grooviest disco grooves she had in store.
The album title, sensually whispered in the opening title track by people like Kylie Minogue, actress Gemma Arterton, and fellow mature Irish disco queen Róisín Murphy (who recorded her lines at an airport toilet), knows what it’s talking about. Not only does this album sound good – much thanks to the production by English producers James Ford and Stuart Price, but the man also who turned Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia into a bonafide disco banger, and by Jessie herself whose singing has switched a gear – it truly feels good. Jessie is not wearing a retro costume, she embodies the entire genre with her arresting presence and striking visuals, wearing her influences with class.
The five-and-a-half album centerpiece “Begin Again” is the crowning achievement of the entire disco revival. “Why do my realities take over all my dreams?” Jessie asks herself for a brief second before sweeping off into the night, riding on the intriguing salsa melodies and that undefinable disco groove that makes tomorrow’s daily life feel like a very distant greyness. It’s the same theme that we saw on songs like “Remember Where You Are” from What’s Your Pleasure? but this time the volume is turned up even a bit higher and the grooves a little tighter.
In fact, you will have to go back to Michael Jackson’s Off the Wallor Donna Summer’s Bad Girls to match danceability as energic as in songs like “Begin Again,” “Free Yourself,” “Pearls,” or “Beautiful People.” For every new album, Jessie Ware keeps getting better. Her fifth album is empowered by shimmering colors, queerness, and true happiness. Who could have imagined that disco would sound this alive and flourishing fifty years after Earth, Wind & Fire was formed? In a happier world with fewer broken hearts, England’s biggest pop star might not be Adele – but in fact, just might be – Jessie Ware.