Jess Glynne is Adele with a better groove and preachier lyrics, bringing strong, soulful vocals to a collection of dance tracks. Her groove reminds me of old Maroon 5 minus the bitter sexuality. Her new album, I Cry When I Laugh, makes for a great road trip soundtrack, though its presence in anyone’s music collection will likely be short-lived.
Music lovers are likely to remember Glynne as the featured vocalist in Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be,” though anyone who watched the music video might be surprised to learn Glynne is a red-headed Brit. I bought the album because of the success of “Rather Be,” one of my favorite tracks of 2014 because of Glynne’s vocals.
Standouts on I Cry When I Laugh include “Gave Me Something,” “Hold My Hand,” “You Can Find Me,” and “My Love.” The first three are upbeat dance numbers sure to put a smile on anyone’s face, the last a slow love song reminiscent of Adele’s “Someone Like You.”
Oddly, Glynne’s music moralizes; her “No Rights, No Wrongs” insists on a worldview where people have to make choices without any moral guiding. The song believes any choice has the potential for good because there’s no one around to say otherwise. “It’s time to face it,” Glynne sings, “‘cuz you can’t change it.” This song provides a very simplistic view of moral gray areas and is one of the album’s only sour notes, which is unfortunate, considering how catchy it is. The album’s other misstep is the track “Saddest Vanilla” featuring Emeli Sandé. It’s effective as a break-up song without being particularly sympathetic; I found the lyrics more funny than heartbreaking.
If you want mindless dance pop, this is the album. The songs–and especially Glynne’s vocals–are quality enough to justify spending money on what snobs might call “just a silly pop album.” However, Glynne’s music sounds old school without feeling classic, retro without the giddy nostalgia of the ’90s jams that inspired it. Glynne may fall by the wayside in the next couple of years; in the mean time, however, she’s put out a fun CD that will make your morning commute a little bit better.
Overall impression: Worth a listen