Ever since Jessie Ware first garnered widespread acclaim for her 2012 debut album Devotion, she hasn’t disappointed. Last month, she returned with the hazy, gorgeous “Tough Love”—the title track from her upcoming sophomore album—which landed a spot on our July Slate Plus playlist. She recently followed that up with the slow-burning “Share It All,” which once again displayed her satiny vocals. Today on Zane Lowe’s BBC Radio 1 show, she debuted the album’s next single, “Say You Love Me,” and it’s one of the year’s best pop songs so far.
The song, co-written by fellow Brit Ed Sheeran and co-produced by BenZel (Benny Blanco and Two Inch Punch), is a soaring ballad about heartache that hits all the right notes. It’s structured similarly to songs like Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” and Adele’s “Take It All”: The verses are full of passionate pleading to a lover (“Just say you want me/ That’s all it takes”) that ultimately explodes into a massive-sounding bridge with assistance from a gospel choir. On collaborating with Sheeran on the track—who also plays the gentle guitar line—Ware says his songwriting “elevated the way she sings.” And Ware’s vocals, while always rich and technically sound, have truly never been this fluid or exuded this much confidence.
“Say You Love Me” is the type of song that, if promoted enough, could finally put Ware on the map in the United States. Here’s hoping that happens ahead of the release of Tough Love on Oct. 21.