If we would have a toolbar here like on Twitter which trended the topics of the moment in real time –obviously related directly to musical actuality– one topic that would appear most often, in an almost ceaseless rotation, would be that of the “vocal diva”. In what we used to know as the dubstep scene, the tendency has been increasing by the day to use voices with a wide register of expression, educated by soulful reality TV programmes and shining UK garage, which adds a dimension somewhere between passionate and euphoric to the new club beats. The exit out of the dark tunnel, announced by Joy Orbison’s “Hyph Mngo” last year, has become real in 2010, the year dubstep broke and during which every producer who doesn’t want to look backwards, from Scratcha DVA to Skream or the masked SBTRKT (who in turn is referred to by many as the logical continuation of the Joy Orbison sound), has taken part in the divas procession, again at the forefront of the scene.
“Nervous” is, in that sense, a key track of this phenomenon, albeit without the wide reach of Katy B’s tracks produced by Benga. Debutant Jessie Ware does her utmost in an interpretation that perfectly adapts to what a garage track requires, with her touch of ‘Pop Idol’. It’s possible that she hasn’t got the lungs to reach the highest notes or to prolong certain notes, but she has a sensual timbre perfect for SBTRKT’s production; a nervous break –as the title suggests– and a twin set of synthesisers: one luminous and the other fat and funky, with traces of the other trend topic of the moment, the boogie revival. Beyond that there isn’t much more variety –vocal version, instrumental version, radio edit and VIP remix–, but I bet Numbers will be releasing a sequel soon. “Nervous” sounds like just a taster of the neo-garage lesson to come. Claude T. Hill