Different rhythms hit different parts of the body, as South London popstar on the make Jessie Ware knows only too well. Running was all about the hips, a sultry sway and heel-turn of a track. 110% was all in the ankles with its gentle tiptoeing tones to reach across a dancefloor. New song Sweet Talk, however, is all about the shoulders. It has the kind of shuffle that dances around heart level; a wriggle that slips you into an embrace – or pulls you away. Sweet Talk is all about that push-pull dynamic, the uneven power play of a half-relationship.
But you give me that sweet talk / and it works for me
And it’s the sweet words / that pull me in
I know I’m the weak one / and I won’t say no
You give me your reason / so I’ll never go
Jessie Ware is not one to hide behind veiled lyrics, which is one of the many reasons its oh-so-easy to fall, and fall hard, for her pop take on contemporary British soul. She lays it all bare. But it’s not just those honest words – or even that clear, round voice – it’s also very much what lies beneath.
Produced by Julio Bashmore and The Invisible’s Dave Okumu, the latter of whom was Jessie’s right-hand-man during the making of her debut album ‘Devotion’, Sweet Talk is steeped in instrumentation that’s handled with a tender, easy touch. Every part has its clear place yet all fold into a collective swoon between breaths. And yet, amidst the dramatic sweeps, there’s a touch of percussion that scratches at the subconscious. Lean in and it comes into focus: a drum stick brush that tickles just behind the ear, like the bristling sensation you get when you know you’re being sweet-talked but you swallow it anyway. Cos that’s what we all do, at one time or other, whether we’re the ones falling for it or doing the whispering. And Jessie’s, sweetly, calling us all out.