Since the release of 2014’s Tough Love, Jessie Ware has left us wanting more. But since the success of her sophomore album, the U.K. pop-soul singer-songwriter has gotten married and had her first child—so, she's been busy. But now, with her latest record, Glasshouse, Ware makes it clear that it's been worth the wait; she doesn’t hold back, opening up about the struggles she faces not only as a new mother but also in the realm of romance. Influenced by Joni Mitchell, Frank Ocean, and Solange, Ware worked to refine her songwriting skills on Glasshouse. The result: an escape for listeners and a song-led record that reveals her strengths. While the record oscillates between tender balladry and dark pop gems, Ware shows that she can bring a lot of versatility and candor to the table.
We caught up with Ware about becoming a sharper songwriter, intimate details of her life, and feeling her most confident.
Can you tell me about the process of making this record?
It was quite a long process [making this record]. I went straight back into the studio after touring the second record. I was quite eager to get on with things. I had more to say and wanted to say it quickly because really, I wanted to have a child, and that was the main interest for me. I felt really impatient about having a baby. The work came out of many sleepless nights.
There were certain parts of the record that were difficult to listen to, either referring to your marriage or motherhood. Tell me a little bit about that.
Being a parent was pretty intense for me. My relationship changed with my husband because there's somebody more important than the both of you. It’s a different kind of relationship. Those frustrations that you don’t have much time for each other is mixed with ecstasy and joy that you made this little thing. I don’t want to say it’s been a tough year, but it’s been the best year I’ve ever had. There have been troubles But it’s about working it out in your own way. It’s about adjusting to being a parent. It’s trial and error, but we got through it.
Which songs do we see this struggle on?
I think “First Time,” I like to think I try to make a positive thing out of frustration, but I try to celebrate the person I love. It’s got a euphoria and romance about it. It’s about getting back to something that’s brilliant. There’s a song called “Sam,” which is about me struggling to work out what kind of mother I’m going to be. There’s this waiting game, and you’re hoping you’ll be able to do the best job possible. There’s a song I actually wrote five years ago called “Last of the True Believers” that [I made] when my first record was blowing up. It was when my husband and I weren’t having any time together. It was about escaping into this beautiful world and escaping all the noise and pressure and just being on our own. There’s always romance intertwined with this struggle. There’s this song called “Thinking About You,” which I wrote a lot since my daughter is born. When I would write, I’d be away from my daughter, and I had my own kind of struggle about that. I think about her all the time even when I’m not with her.
How did you land on your first single, “Midnight”?
I think it had a confidence about it with my vocal delivery. It felt dark and had this energy about it that I hadn’t introduced before. It felt kind of fresh. I was hoping my fans would want to see me take a few risks.
How did you land on “Selfish Love” as another single? It’s quite different than “Midnight.”
It felt like it had a bit of melodrama, and I managed to get it out at the end of the summer. It felt hot and heavy. It just felt like another face of the record that was very different than “Midnight.”
How did you come up with the title for your record, Glasshouse?
The title is from a poem called “I Built Myself a House of Glass” by Edward Thomas. It’s been the biggest year of change [for me], which I’m so thankful for, but I’ve also had to learn how to work with that.
Do you feel more confident with your songwriting? It does seem like you were in a different headspace.
Yes. I had more confidence in myself. I feel like a woman. I feel like I’ve grown into myself lyrically, professionally, and I feel much more in my skin. I also have a bit more experience. [On] the last album, were the first songs I had ever written. I have three years behind me now.
How does Glasshouse differ from Tough Love when it comes to the process of making it and the sound?
I feel like it’s more song-led. I wanted to focus on songs and the art of the songs. I just really wanted to get better as a songwriter.
What does your husband think about the songs that address the struggle you guys experienced?
I don’t think he realizes how many songs are about him, which is kind of brilliant. He’s not really focused on my work, which is great. He comes to support. Maybe he will [realize it] when he sees them live.
What do you hope people get out of Glasshouse?
I hope they find an escape. I hope they find a bit of romance. I hope they see something about their relationships in there. I hope they want to play it for their friends. I love to play music for my friends and share it when I enjoy it.
Was there anything that was particularly difficult for you to write about on this record?
I think the song “Sam.” I rewrote the chorus—it’s pretty direct. That was quite difficult, but I believe in it.
What's next for you?
I just want to enjoy touring. I want to get as much touring out of Glasshouse as possible.
Glasshouse is available for purchase now.