UK sensation Jess Glynne’s new album is all about the girl who broke her heart

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25-year-old Jess Glynne came close to breaking a record this weekend when her fifth single “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself” hit number one in the UK. The only other female artist to have done so thus far is Cheryl Cole, but Jess is a rising star whose first singles were with the group Clean Bandit. (You’ve certainly heard her on their Grammy-winning track “Rather Be” which was featured in a Coca-Cola commercial and on Glee). Now Jess’s debut solo album I Cry When I Laugh is out on Atlantic Records and the singer is very open about most of the songs being inspired by her ex-girlfriend, the woman who broke her heart.

Jess Glynne - Album Signing and Gig

It was back in May when the British vocalist first came out about her relationship, telling a reporter: “I was actually broken-hearted. She just f***ed me over. It was the first girl I’d ever fallen in love with. I’ve never said that to anyone. It was a relationship that was so new to me. Someone I met working.”

The aforementioned hit single “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself” is about moving past a broken heart and finding happiness within yourself. “Why Me” is a slow, sad track about the devastating loss of someone you thought you could trust enough to love. But there’s also some positivity about relationships and people on the album, like the romantic dance track “Hold My Hand” and in the new video for “Give Me Something,” which has LGBT people (as well as Jess herself) sharing the lyrics of the song, which is about a person who gives you an extra push into going for the things you want in life; taking a chance and having hope. 

She also said she doesn’t want to label herself, and hopes the music will be the focus of her career: “I don’t know what I want now—to be with a guy, with a girl, be with anyone. I’m so content with just doing this and seeing where it all takes me.”

Jess’s openness about her album inspiration and relationship having been with a woman is fantastic, though, with most chart toppers still identifying as straight. And that her new hit single was written based on a relationship between two women is quietly revolutionary:

“I’m very emotional today. I can’t tell you how much it all means to me,” Jess said when she found out she’d hit number one with “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself.” “This song is quite a special one for me. It comes from somewhere deep and it’s one of those songs that helped me get through what I have been going through this summer. Everyone goes through hard times. Stuff happens in people’s lives that aren’t so great. I guess it was a bit of therapy for myself.”

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In an interview with The Telegraph, Jess talks about the ex that inspired the album:

“The songs on this album are about a girl. I would never lie about a situation I’ve been in. I feel like with the album I’m putting my cards out on the table. I wouldn’t want it to be misconstrued and the fact of the matter is those songs are about a girl. I was heartbroken about a girl, it wasn’t a guy.”

It’s the only time during the interview that Glynne’s infectious grin disappears. I ask whether the girl in question likes the album, whether she knows it’s about her. “I haven’t spoken to her, we don’t talk,” she says staring down at the floor. “There’s no talking. It’s really sad when you think about it, that we don’t talk. But it’s her decision. I don’t know what she’s doing. I don’t know if she’s even heard it.”

As same-sex couples continue to fight for legitimacy, a number one song about the kind of pain and love and lust and sadness that can come from a relationship between two women can only bring more positive visibility to queer women. Considering the climate of popular music, we are more likely to hear songs about straight women having a fictional fling with a woman (“Cool for the Summer”) than we are a passionate song about a Sapphic romance gone-wrong. Jess Glynne’s songs are universal because she’s singing about a shared experience—not to mention she’s got a killer voice to accompany those relatable lyrics.

V Festival - Hylands Park - Day 1

In the same way that past generations have found themselves in the music of out and proud artists Melissa Etheridge or The Indigo Girls or Tegan and Sara, Jess Glynne could be that voice for a new age of queer women. And despite recent vocal surgery, she’s back on the mic and wowing audiences of all kinds at festivals and readying her fall UK/US tour.

While she has yet to become a household name in America, it’s likely she’ll be doing more press and performances while playing the states, and as the “honest person” she says she can’t help but be, we’ll likely hear more from and about Jess Glynne, and that can only be a good thing.

 

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