This Jess Glynne article was written by Adam Jones, a GIGsoup contributor
London-born Jess Glynne may have only been releasing music for a little over 18 months, but her success to date is impressive. After bagging her fifth Number One single in the week her debut album was released, ‘I Cry When I Laugh’ had big shoes to fill. It is not a typical ‘heartbreak’ album in the vein of Adele or Sam Smith, but instead focuses on motivational lyrics and upbeat, dance-infused melodies as a method of coping and dealing with heartache. Upon closer inspection her lyricism is mellower than the up-tempo music would suggest. Lyrics such as “I came here with a broken heart that no one else could see / I drew a smile on my face to paper over me” show that Glynne clearly doesn’t shy away from pain, but accentuates the positive in a collection of songs that simultaneously show emotional depth and joyful abandon. As such, the contradictory title, ‘I Cry When I Laugh’, seems an apt name for an album that embraces both the positive and the negative. However, it is the optimistic that ultimately wins out on this impressive debut from a savvy singer-songwriter and undeniably strong vocalist.
From the chilled, electronic-infused opener, ‘Strawberry Fields’, to the album’s strong and catchy closer, debut solo single ‘Right Here’, the standard edition of ‘I Cry When I Laugh’ tells a complete story that flows well from track to track. In ‘Strawberry Fields’ we see Glynne awaiting the start of her own journey of self-discovery; ‘Right Here’ portrays her in a similar position, waiting for what will come next, albeit with more self-awareness and self-confidence. The album tracks detail the full spectrum of emotions associated with new experiences. We hear the joyful beginnings on tracks like ‘Give Me Something’ and ‘Hold My Hand’, whilst also seeing a co-existing confidence (‘Love Me’) and uncertainty (‘Take Me Home’). We see emotional pain and anger on tracks like ‘Saddest Vanilla’ and ‘It Ain’t Right’ and a matter of fact acceptance of what has happened on ‘No Rights, No Wrongs’. We also see Glynne addressing her own dreams and journey on ‘Ain’t Got Far to Go’ and ‘You Can Find Me’ and the importance of trusting yourself and your own instincts on one of the albums stand-out tracks, ‘Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself’. With the backdrop of largely piano-driven, dance-pop melodies, we see Glynne exploring this entire spectrum and showing how relationships can affect us, but ultimately she shows how we can and should rise above and come out the other end, stronger and more aware of ourselves.
The deluxe edition adds 6 additional songs that, while not necessarily fitting into the narrative of the standard edition, are still worth listening to. Her three chart-topping collaborations (‘Rather Be’, ‘Not Letting Go’ and ‘My Love’) are included, alongside an acoustic version of ‘My Love’ which showcases Glynne’s vocal prowess and provides more emotional depth to the track. The remaining two songs, ‘Home’ and ‘Bad Blood’, are aurally quite different to the others and provide some unusual melodies and instrumentation. Whilst not necessarily fitting the coherent nature of the standard album, these tracks show a different side to Glynne. These tracks, coupled with her catchy collaborations make the deluxe edition of the album a worthwhile investment.
Ultimately, this album is an incredibly strong debut and encourages toe tapping and sing-alongs. Her catchy choruses and infectious beats make this album an interesting take on the traditional heartbreak album. Alongside the seven songs already released as singles, the unreleased tracks sound as if they would fare well as a single release, showing the strength and quality of all the songs included on this debut. This album has something for everyone and embraces Glynne’s various influences on a range of songs that detail pain and suffering, but ultimately motivate us to dance and rise above emotional turmoil. She acutely pinpoints the uncertainty of new love and the pain and anger of dying or unsatisfying love but also offers upbeat reminders not to dwell too long on this pain and remember that it is important not to allow other people to dictate your path.
‘I Cry When I Laugh’ is out now via Atlantic Records UK.