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Jessie Ware & SBTRKT – Nervous review

Vocalists often get a raw deal in dance music – shunted to the sidelines by producers who more often than not take all the glory. It runs almost parallel to pop, where singers hog the limelight and the writers and producers barely get a look in. It’s about time that the UK’s bass scene finally start producing some vocal talent , and hot on the heels of Katy B’s “On A Mission” comes the firstĀ  single from Jessie Ware – previously employed as part of Man Like Me – which comes with production from SBTRKT and is the latest blinding EP from the Numbers crew.

SBTRKT’s nu-jazz past really shines through on the production, with a bassline that reeks of early 80s boogie but sped up and bolstered by some lethally fast hats and glorious funky snares and claps. As the bassline rises through octaves and a heady, filtered string arpeggio blows through the tune, Ware’s vocals are layered beautifully over the top. The real ace though is the deft tempo drop after the first chorus – slowing down to around 90bpm slowly and with the vocals still clinging onto the groove for dear life. As the hats and bass notes almost collapse into each other, it speeds up frantically making for a truly unique moment – a trick missed by so many producers.

As well as a dub and radio edit, there’s also a String VIP mix that unleashes a new set of strings around midway through. There’s also a new SBTRKT original included called “Fright” which starts off with a bassbin-pounding set of toms and subs, before switching up beats into a crisp and crunchy garage rhythm, all the while layered with some twinkling space-pads. It’s pretty essential fare all round, as you’d expect from Numbers, and a welcome debut from Jessie Ware.

Oliver Keens