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As we slide into a blustery October, with only a few months left of the year, I am ready to call 2014 as the Year of the Pop Divas. There was a hesitation that, with BANKS and FKA Twigs bringing something new and exciting to the world of pop, the reigning queen of pop divas Jessie Ware would not be able to keep the streak going. It was, of course, a completely unfounded hesitation because it's Jessie Ware we're talking about here! Ware is the more commercially viable of the three, as seen by the success of her beautiful debut Devotion which was packed full of chart-ready pop tunes that were just different and exciting enough to keep the critics happy, but it doesn't mean she is any less important; she did, after all, break through working with Young Turks stalwart SBTRKT and is signed to PMR alongside Disclosure so she has the credentials. Her second album Tough Love shows that Ware really can hold her own against these newcomers, adding yet another record to the pop pile we're being spoilt with this year.

Given the success of Devotion, and just how lusciously beautiful an exploration of love and heartache it was, you'd be hard-pressed to complain if Tough Love was more of the same because the Devotion formula was so perfect for what she was trying to achieve that the old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes to mind. But Ware isn't one for resting on her laurels and has instead built upon that foundation to create an album so silkily smooth you just want to curl up in front of the fire with it.

There's nothing as club-friendly as 'Imagine It Was Us' or '110%/You're Never Gonna Move' here, opting more for a warm sound packed with soul and with the odd detour into a more dance-influenced world. The focus here is undeniably on Ware's vocals, with production from the likes of production duo BenZel and frequent collaborator Julio Bashmore (with whom she worked on the brilliant club-banger 'Imagine It Was Us') being a little more understated and taking a back seat. Her voice is now confident and refined enough to take centre stage and really lead the album, the comparisons with Sade now really ringing true. Tracks such as 'Keep On Lying' comprise of nothing more than skittering drum pads and a warm Casio keyboard line letting Ware's vocals soar through the track with a real captivating beauty and tenderness.

The breezy '80s synths and sweeping strings of the excellent 'Cruel' manage to provide the perfect background for her vocals without ever overshadowing her. It's a fine line that is well balanced throughout the album. The silky smooth beats of 'Sweetest Song', straight out of the sultriest Miguel track, know when to turn things up and when to dial it back; similarly with the disco-infused 'Want Your Feeling', the only track that would really fit for the dancefloor thanks to Dev Hynes' ear for a super-addictive bassline.

The real highlight comes in the form of 'Kind Of...Sometimes...Maybe' which has a scattered feel to it that never seems to sit still but is drawn together by Ware's soulful voice filled with indecision as she tries to make sense of everything around her. It's a beautifully understated track that doesn't quite have the soaring power ballad feel of Pieces or the real personal impact of 'You & I (Forever)', a song about the moment her husband proposed, but still packs an emotional kick nonetheless.

The only real problem comes in the form of the Ed Sheeran co-written 'Say You Love Me', which starts off well enough with a delicate acoustic intro but then turns into the sort of track that would soundtrack a winner's montage on a reality show. It feels too cloying and manufactured, losing the personality that the rest of the album is packed out with. But this is one small blip in an album full of astonishingly beautiful moments that it's hard to make a big deal out of it when everything else is so good.

Tough Love is sleek, silky neo-soul at its finest. It's not an album that's going to grab you by the throat as with Goddess or LP1, but it is going to keep your attention regardless. Captivating and deeply personal at times, but not overbearingly so, Tough Love is sure to be a chart success and yet another album to add to the pile of superb female-led pop records to come out this year.

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