“I Cry When I Laugh” is the debut album from Singer/Songwriter Jess Glynne.
London born Glynne came to prominence with her vocals on the big hit for Electronic group Clean Bandit’s song “Rather Be”. She also featured on the follow up single “Real Love” and also lent her vocals to the number one pop hit “My Love” by DJ/Producer Route 94.
With chart success already achieved the debut album was released in August 2015 and shot straight to the top of album charts. All in all Jess Glynne had been presented to the public in a well thought out and planned way. Her career thus far has seen her become a hit making machine.
When I first heard her vocals on the Clean Bandit track “Rather Be” I was impressed. I like the voice as it was exactly pure and had this quivering edge to it. The video for that song didn’t really give me an indication of what Glynne looked like and that air of mystique was a great way to introduce you to any artist.
There was a bit of anticipation for this album given that most of the songs I had heard from Glynne all appealed. The main problem I have with “I Cry When I Laugh” is the songwriting which is not Glynne’s strong point. She has writing credits on every song but the themes of Love and relationships become tired after a few songs.
The title of the album is another irksome moment for me. I don’t mean to be funny here but “I Cry When I Laugh” is a terrible title for an album. It is almost as if she is trying too hard to tell us that this is an album about emotions and feelings and that she cries and she laughs.
This is where I get confused to where Glynne sits in popular music. She isn’t as totally shit as Cheryl Tweedy or Pixie Lott but then she lacks the depth of songwriting as Adele or Emeli Sande. Her vocal is her strong point and given the right songs I feel Glynne has much more to offer.
The production on this album is safe, largely uninteresting but at times has some strong moments and you start to think of what could have been.
“Strawberry Fields – Intro” kicks the album off. This is a 1:21 intro which Glynne is basically talking about coming of age and using her past to drive her present.
We then go into the second track “Gave Me Something”. Musically it is lead by a piano which you will find lead just about all the songs on this set. This track is a mid tempo R&B number about love and how this person has given her something in her life although she never actually explains what. The structure of the song sees the chorus as a gospel type chanty affair with hand clapping and the like.
The next song is the number one hit “Hold My Hand”. I hate this song. From it’s piano rift at the start to the inane lyrics this track is what I didn’t want Jess Glynne to be.
Just the concept of ‘holding ones hand’ is a ridiculous notion in today’s popular music culture. Whilst I realise that we shouldn’t be forcing adult themes on children and that the innocence of holding hands should be encouraged the fact is it is so insincere.
I don’t know Jess Glynne personally (and never am likely to) but I cannot for one moment believe that she has wanted a man to just hold her hand. Hold her maybe, hug her, comfort her, touch her, kiss her… but hold her hand? You can fuck right off with that nonsense.
I also do not really understand the song. The first verse is easy enough to follow as she is asking this man to put his arms around her and tell her everything is ok but then the pre chorus says:
Break my bones but you won’t see me fall, oh
The rising tide will rise against them all, oh
Beats me to what she means by that. She was asking him to comfort her and now she is triumphantly saying that she can take any abuse given to her.
Darling, hold my hand
Oh, won’t you hold my hand?
‘Cause I don’t wanna walk on my own anymore
Won’t you understand? ‘Cause I don’t wanna walk alone
I’m ready for this, there’s no denying
I’m ready for this, you stop me falling
I’m ready for this, I need you all in
I’m ready for this, so darling, hold my hand
What is she ready for? The hand holding? I’m sorry Jess but this song is t a load of shite.
Glynne’s second single with Clean Bandit was “Real Love” and that is track four on her album. This song never perked my interest as much as “Rather Be” but was still a solid pop song although the theme of wanting real love as opposed to fake love never really appealed to me.
“Ain’t Got Far To Go” again starts with the piano rift. This track has more of an R&B vibe and like the track until the pre chorus which seems a little redundant of ideas with Glynne just singing “I know” before the chorus kicks in. Despite this, I actually quite like this song.
The theme of the song is about someone pulling her down and her rising above their negativity to realise her dreams and that she now hasn’t got far to go before all has been achieved.
“Take Me Home” is the first we hear in the way of ballads on the song. This song is more in tune with the silly title of the album. The song is about relying on someone to help them through a bad time.
Came to you with a broken faith
Gave me more than a hand to hold
Caught before I hit the ground
Tell me I’m safe, you’ve got me now
Again Glynne is talking about holding hands and the theme of the song is almost identical to the track “Hold My Hand” which is further evidence that Glynne may have many tracks on this album but she is singing the same song.
“Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself” yet again starts off with a familiar piano rift. This track is very uptempo and the instrumental is very much like a Clean Bandit track that we have heard before. I can’t deny that I like this song and the way the vocal on the verses mix with the music.
“You Can Find Me” is more creative musically with a house style beat and a melody that is infectious. This is one of the highlights on the album as it really brings out the vocal Glynne possess. It’s slightly strained at times and at it’s soulful peak.
This track is big, vibrant and much bolder than many of the tracks we have heard up to this point. Glynne sounds sultry and sexy on this track and I really like this one.
“Why Me” is a departure from the album’s sound. It’s a much deeper sounding song with this trip hop vibe and Glynne sounds clear and soulful. The song loses it’s way a little in the last minute but overall this was one of the more interesting tracks.
“Love Me” is simply “Ain’t Got Far to go” part 2. I actually thought I must have accidentally gone to the wrong track but it turns out this is a different song!
“It Ain’t Right” sounds very similar early on to 112 and their song “Dance Wit Me”. This track is certainly more of an adult R&B track – not in it’s lyrical content but in it’s tone and mood that it creates. I really like this track – this production is really good and Glynne flows beautifully over the pounding beat.
When Glynne produces something like this it arguably makes me more disappointed with the album as I can hear what she can do. This track is wonderful.
“No Rights No Wrong” is one of those ‘lift yourself up’ tracks that Glynne has splurged all over her debut album. I like the positive nature of this song but when we have had so many on the album saying the same things about rising up and moving forward and becoming who you want to be then by this point it’s all become a little familiar.
“Saddest Vanilla” features Emeli Sande. The song starts with the lyric:
“You’re giving me right, You’re giving me wrong”
The reason this line annoys me is that I just finished listening to a 4 minute song before this one called “No Rights No Wrongs”!
“Saddest Vanilla” is pretty dreary and falls into the more boring side of Sande which she suffers with occasionally. Both singers sound fine without stretching themselves. The song just isn’t very interesting and I think if you listen to it a few times you will get the same vibe.
The album finish with “Right Here”. Hands down this is best song on the album. It was the first solo single released by Glynne and was included in my top 10 songs of 2014. The song is produced by British duo Gorgon City. The pound bass through the song make this a really awesome dance song with Glynne sounding fantastic.
You can argue that I have been harsh on songs such as “Hold My Hand” and might just dismiss my criticisms as unfair as it’s just a ‘pop song’ but so is “Right Here” but its just a much much better song. It has a catchy chorus and no doubt you’ll be singing along to it after a few listens.
“Right Here” proves that well crafted pop/dance songs can be achieved without settling for nonsense lyrics and words that simply just rhyme.
“I Cry When I Laugh” isn’t a great album. It has moments that are really strong by the majority of the album is formulaic and dull. The strong points on the set actually see me increase my rating as they are that good.
The song could have been trimmed down to around 8 tracks and would have been a much more solid offering. Glynne probably needs to work out her limitations as a songwriter and only then will she flourish – just because you write your own songs doesn’t mean that you are any good at it and Glynne needs to try find some diversity in her writing.