Jessie Ware's classy soul music doesn't call attention to itself, which may explain why the Londoner has until now tended to slip beneath the radar.
ith the release last year of second album Tough Love, however, there's a feeling things may be starting to happen for the former journalist : she's up for a Brit Award for best female singer while it was this week announced she has placed a song on the soundtrack to the big screen adaptation of S&M bonkbuster Fifty Shades of Grey. Here, you sense, is a quiet one worth watching.
Subtlety was one of the presiding moods at her biggest Irish show to date. Though her voice is as technically impressive as that of Adele or Florence Welch, Ware stands aloof where other vocalists might dive in, conjuring an agreeable air of 'less is more'. It helps, too, that she has worked with top notch writers – Ed Sheeran among them – and that her songbook is adventurous and nuanced.
With her four-piece band contributing spare rhythmic shuffles, Ware, in an elegant black outfit, was comfortable holding back, resisting the obvious temptation to overwhelm the sell-out audience with unabashed vocal prowess. This proved a winning strategy as she proceeded with considerable grace and poise through buttoned-down dirges such as Running and Cruel, statuesque anthems that benefited from Ware's minimalist style.
A cynic might have despaired of the one-note flavour of the evening – and of the unwavering whiff of good taste. But a time when pop is in too much of a hurry to get in your face, her willingness to keep something of herself in reserve will surely strike most people as refreshing. Certainly the roars of acclaim that echoed around the venue suggested Ware's moment may be at hand: for anyone who wishes chart music would grow up, that is an enormously encouraging thought.