Midnight, the witching hour, the moment one day ends and becomes part of the past, and the next one begins. Wilson Pickett sung about waiting till the midnight hour, when no one else was around, to be with his lover, “I’m gonna take you, girl, and hold you/ And do all things I told you, in the midnight hour.” Gladys Knight sung about following her man on the midnight train to Georgia, “I’m gonna be with him/ On that midnight train to Georgia/ I’d rather live in his world/ Than live without him in mine”. And countless other artists have spun stories of the midnight hour, where longings and regret dance around each other, and late-night phone calls filled with love and hope that turn to dust in the morning light.
‘Midnight’, the first single from Jessie Ware’s album Glass House, out tomorrow (20th October), continues in that vein of desire and longing and vulnerability, that all have the possibility of going unanswered or unfulfilled or creating moments in the shadows. The track flits between jazz, soul and pop, with Ware’s voice effortlessly riding the waves of each and falling in and out of imagination and wakefulness.
The songs opening bars begin softly with an ethereal guitar part accompanied by delicately distorted synths fading in and out, followed by Ware’s breathy and feminine vocals that lift the track higher and higher.
“You’re special/ Yours truly/ You pull me deep into my deepest desire/ Can you meet me in the midnight?”
The synths and etherealness of the track all at once give way to the heavy, longing and soulful chorus, as if you are suddenly being awoken from a beautiful daydream. Ware’s voice gathers momentum and power as the beat pulses through the song, shattering the haze the previous verse had created.
“Maybe I love you/ Maybe I want to/ Maybe I need you.”
“But you’re precious/ I’m scheming/ Keep dreaming/ ‘Bout a world where we are an item/ Can I miss you in the daylight?”
Ware’s voice then slows the whole thing down again. With the synths, queasy and more jarring than before, fading in and out, as if the track itself is breathing in and out on its own, until the song breaks through the haze once more and Ware’s soulful pleading in the cold light of day.
“Maybe I love you/ Maybe I want to/ Maybe I need you/ Oh, yeah/ Don’t let me fall through/ Now that I need you.”
Like the transition between the end of one day and the beginning of another, ‘Midnight’ dances between the shadows of longing and desire and the wakefulness of having and claiming that person you crave and need, whilst all the while knowing that that having is tenuous.