Jess Glynne’s ‘I Cry When I Laugh’: Album Review

2014 was quite the big year for Jess Glynne. The 25-year-old Brit first gained international recognition as the sultry vocal feature on Clean Bandit’s Grammy Award-winning “Rather Be” smash and then on Route 94’s hazy deep house single “My Love.” It’s a one-two punch once similarly made by fellow UK singer Sam Smith (“Latch,” anyone?). And it’s totally foolproof: take a distinctive voice, an infectious dance beat, and you’ve got yourself a chart-topping smash (and a shiny new pop star to fawn over).

Now, stepping out with her solo debut I Cry When I Laugh (released today, ), Jess explores a caustic heartbreak and an ultimate hopeful resolve. And while she proves herself as a stellar songwriter, her pitfall remains the album’s relentless over-production.

Take the opener, “Gave Me Something.” Here, she rejoices over a love found at a moment when it seemed impossible. “Amber’s all I ever saw/ Like my life was on hold/ I never thought I’d see/ The day the light turn green,” the artist sings. The lyrics hit hard, but the song’s uplifting clap-along beat and multi-track choir affirms that the album is postured, first and foremost, as a glossy collection of hits.

It’s clear that Jess is holding tight to the sound that brought her to the mainstream. “Rather Be,” a lush acoustic rendition of “My Love,” and her UK number one single “Hold My Hand” are sprinkled throughout the project. There is also her ice-cream-parlor breakup ballad “Saddest Vanilla” with singer-songwriter Emeli Sande, which sounds as cheeseball as the title suggests.

That said, with massive floor-fillers like “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself” and “You Can Find Me,” it’s hard not to be smitten by Jess. So don’t get me wrong — I love widescreen anthemic numbers as much as the next person. But there is currency in the art of restraint just the same.

Idolator Score: 3/5

— Rachel Sonis

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