Lianne La Havas, the self-titled album, is delectable, precise, magic.
The alternative folk and soul English singer-songwriter recently released her third studio album, layered with bass and guitar riffs to back up a deep-natured soulful voice that rings out leaving you spellbound.
Following the success of her single Green & Gold from 2015 album, Blood, Lianne has returned with an impalpable, beautifully-laced LP. A fan myself since the singer’s 2012 album debut with Is Your Love Big Enough?, I’ve long admired the brassy nature and vibrato in her voice, her style and easy-handling of the electric guitar and bass whilst making singing look easy. This new 2020 LP release has brought back the rush and glory of La Havas’ 2012 debut.
Bittersweet captures a soft build and jazz/funk instrumental from the outset with three piano key notes adding to the deep bass, like a sweet BadBadNotGood track. La Havas’ voice bursts through the chorus, making her mark on the album from its first track, and we remember how unique and serendipitous her vocals are. All the while, the backing vocals throughout the latter of the song adds to its position as strong contender for best track on the album.
Read My Mind has the perfect entrancing combination of the laced guitar strumming patterns and funk-inspired bass that hits the right note throughout the track. The Free Nationals (Anderson. Paak’s band) sound comes to mind, and the outro will have you jamming, but La Havas’ voice remains strong and steely so as not to be outshined by the captivating instrumentals.
Can’t Fight is a sweet number inbetween arguably stronger pieces, emotionally, with a guitar and bass reminiscent of the days indie reigned supreme (yes, I saw Lianne La Havas live supporting Coldplay in 2015).
Paper Thin was the first single I fell for before the albums full release – its rhythmic guitar strums against the gentle hues and rasp of La Havas’ voice, here lowered to a softer sound entrancing the entire track and continuing the album’s love song, ending with the delicate, “I just want to love you”.
One of my favourites on the LP, the cover of Radiohead’s superb Weird Fishes. La Havas slows it down mid song, removes all instrumentals and goes acapella before bringing it all back for the heavy, eclectic outro that the song is known for; yet, she accompanies this unmistakably rock genre signature with her gentle hues for a passionate and moving end.
Please Don’t Make Me Cry is similarly La Havas in her element. The song’s bridge and chorus are divine. But again its the soulful vibrato and indescribable dream-like nature in the combination of vocalists and haunting runs that create such divinity. Seven Times enters with a rhythmic and feel good riff that you hear La Havas acknowledging as a “good intro” at the beginning of the track; although, the song’s lyrics are talking about having cried and prayed all night and day, the song is definitely one of the more chilled, feel good tracks to jam to. To sum up, I just think that the album is brilliant, and La Havas is immensely talented.
I can’t end without flagging up the beauty of Courage, the traditionally slower song placed at the tail end of the album. What sounds like a dreampop-esque whistling hue midway after La Havas sings of ‘melodies’ is like a pick-me-up for the song to then entrance us further with violins and the vulnerability heard in La Havas’ voice and resounding lyricism. The album’s love song nature ends optimistically venturing from love to independence with Sour Flower, where Lianne La Havas brazenly sings and her voice roars through, accompanied by the eclectic jazz band sound of the drums, bass and keyboard in the outro until all that’s left is the raw instruments of hand clapping, bongos, and human laughter.