Devotion opens on a familiar note; the title track's wobbly percussion, layered production and intimate vocal easing the listener in gently before hitting them with the album's weightiest punch 'Wildest Moments'. But while its stadium-rousing drums and sing-along chorus easily make it the most chart-friendly thing here, she manages it without compromising class or giving into the usual self-indulgent bombast.
The pace rarely exceeds anything above mid-tempo, but never does it become tiresome. 'No To Love' - which features a rap from the record's main producer Dave Okumu of The Invisibles - remains appealing despite being little more than a vocal loop that asks: "Who says no to love?". 'Running' soars with a subtle charm that is equally as seductive, while 'Taking in Water' marks a rare moment of Ware allowing her pent-up emotion pour out, albeit in a glistening and supremely elegant fashion.
The breathy, small-hours funk of 'Sweet Talk' and punchy beats on 'Swan Song' boast a timeless quality that suggests she's been listening to smooth jazzers Sade and Anita Baker as well as plenty of golden age hip-hop, while 'Still Love Me' wouldn't sound out of place on an Annie Lennox record circa 1985. The result is a smart and sophisticated debut that remains utterly compelling throughout, and serves as a message to guest vocalists everywhere that there is plenty of light at the end of the tunnel.
Tracks to download: 'Running', 'Sweet Talk', 'Wildest Moments', 'No To Love'
If you like this, you'll like: Sade, Lianne La Havas, Delilah
Watch the 'Wildest Moments' music video below: