Liberating disco tunes from Jessie Ware were hotly anticipated after a slate of great singles. Free Yourself, Pearls and Begin Again all provided contemporary shifts for the diva house structure. They aligned themselves with that pop mentality of self-resurrection and an introspective desire, but moved the notion on to an empowering, actual action, rather than an observation. Ware stretches that movement and desire out through That! Feels Good! a tremendously feel-good powerhouse. Everyone has said it already, but it does feel good. It sounds great. Ware has hit on what feels good and finding the virtue in that playful funk rhythm gives it a sensual purpose and a soulful optimism.
Pleasure is the listener’s right and keeping that at the heart of this latest album steers Ware well. Opening, title track That! Feels Good! is a consistent, glowing piece that flows nicely into the first of three powerful singles. Free Yourself had that immediate, pop-ready style that, when reflected on, had the self-righteous attitudes of the charts paired with earnest sincerity. Instrumentals and brass movement lying under it feel more powerful, more in focus as Ware climbs the mountaintop. She has already struck through with plans of a big climb, and That! Feels Good! will push her higher and higher. Ware has considered her influences, what means most to her, and appears with ten genuine and reassured tracks. It is a mark of change and a major continuation of those steps made toward an artistic and chartable balance.
Right at the centre of this major shift is Ware’s vocal range, produced with lush strings on Hello Love and powerful as ever on preceding track Pearls. Whatever it is Ware has in her sights, be it the desire for a fresh start on the aptly titled Begin Again or the address to her listeners as Beautiful People, Ware nails it. Those disco and Latin pairings are a gorgeous blur that serves that final single well. Tina Weymouth flow and funk bleed through Beautiful People, its quiet cowbell serving as a neat extra layer on a track that dances its way through to the final tracks. Those latter tracks take a dive into a bold, building beat that feels like an agonising heartbeat that never hits its climax. Brilliant work on Freak Me Now showcases that with the same pace that keeps That! Feels Good! feeling as freeing and essential as those earlier tracks make it.
Incredible lyrical play and a hook-worthy bass riff continuing through Shake The Bottle showcase the horrors of temptation that harm others. With that, Ware collects contemporary desires and showcases each side of them. A minor stumble on the forgettable Lightning is soon rectified on the actual lightning that strikes through on These Lips. Ware cements herself as the next step of powerhouse dance-pop. She can, as she suggests on that final track, do so much more. That she can, and the genre-bending powerhouse that is That! Feels Good! is a stunning listen that rises, rides and roars through a disco-themed direction.