Jess Glynne is having a very surreal year.
In fact: “It’s very surreal, very, very, very surreal,” Glynne, 26, says.
In just the last four months, the British singer-songwriter has released her stateside debut, “I Cry When I Laugh,” broken the Billboard Hot 100 and watched that very same album go double platinum in her homeland.
“To enter 2016 with a double platinum is probably one of the best things anyone could wish for.”
She also took home a 2015 Grammy for her single with Clean Bandit, "Rather Be," and has since racked up hundreds of millions of YouTube views with her own brand of powerful, soulful dance anthems like “Hold My Hand” and "Take Me Home."
But more importantly, she’s a member of the vanguard of young women rewriting and reshaping the pop landscape. Weaving narrative as strong as her singing voice, Glynne's "I Cry" makes a bold declaration that dance music and song craft don’t have to be mutually exclusive, a lesson she learned through a lifetime of trial and error.
“When I was young and getting really into music, I would listen to my parents cassettes,” remembers the singer. “If I listened to a Mariah Carey song, I’d break it down, see where it rhymed and what went where and then write my own version.”
“I tried out so many different genres and different sounds. You develop a sound and a thing that you want to be the thing.”
As it’s turned out, Glynne’s “thing” is an encapsulation of R&B’s influence on dance culture, a dynamic intersection of soul, gospel and house. But big records require the support of big production teams and big names, and Glynne had to learn to loosen the reins, and cede some control of her songs to her collaborators.
“[Clean Bandit’s] ‘Rather Be’ was a really big lesson for me,” says Glynne. “Originally I was against doing it, [but] it actually changed my view on singing someone else’s songs.”
As result, “I Cry When I Laugh,” out last August from Atlantic, is an album of rich, dynamic interplay between music and musicians. Standouts include her fifth number one single, "Don't Be So Hard on Yourself," and "Saddest Vanilla," a collaboration with Scottish rock-soul singer, Emeli Sande.
When asked for advice for young women with dreams of songwriting, Glynne doesn’t hesitate for a moment:
“Just get to it. Listen to songs, listen to your favorite songs, listen to how they are, how they’re structured and to the stories being told,” she says. “Take guidance from that, take notes. That’s what I did.”
If You Go: New York: Jan. 20, 9 p.m. Webster Hall 125 E 11th St.,212-353-1600
Boston: Jan. 22, 6 p.m. Paradise Rock Club 967 Commonwealth Ave.,617-562-8800
Philadelphia: Jan 23, 8:30 p.m. Union Transfer 1026 Spring Garden St.,215-232-2100