Lianne La Havas
(Warner Brothers Records)
Now I had heard of Lianne La Havas being mentioned in conversation for a few years as an artist to listen out for and I have to admit that I haven’t heard any of her material when she first appeared on the scene with her debut album ‘ Is Your Love Big Enough?’. Now this wasn’t because I didn’t want to but I just let her pass me by. Anyway, fast forward a few years and her name appears all over the UK press, radio and television. The legendary musician Prince decided to hold a press conference at her London home to confirm his ‘Hit and Run’ London Tour dates in the capital last year (sidenote – I actually queued up for eight hours to see Prince play a two-hour set with Third Eye Girl at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in the same year. What an incredible show and George Clinton was in the audience!)
So we arrive at 2015 and Miss Havas has returned with a second album entitled ‘Blood’. Opening with ‘Unstoppable’, Lianne sounds quite airy and it feels like riding in a magic carpet like in the story Aladdin. The orchestral backing really makes this radio-friendly work and the breezy chimes ease you into the album.
‘Green and Gold’ has a pleasant guitar intro and sees Lianne reflect on her childhood ‘watching cartoons through the static’. Her vocal delivery is stunning and the use of keyboards and percussion creates the effect of travelling back in time. Not my favourite track on this album but it is one that you shouldn’t overlook.
‘What You Don’t Do’ is a clever song which has Lianne explain to a lover that it isn’t about the obvious big gestures but the subtle actions that prove their feelings for her. It reminds me of a quote by jazz trumpet player Miles Davis who said ‘Don’t play what you know. Play what you don’t know’. Essentially, take chances and don’t convey your feelings with chocolates and flowers all of the time. It is a funky doo-wop number with a catchy hook and it is really hard to get out of your head.
I absolutely love ‘Tokyo’ as it is pure night music and has a real groove. It creates beautiful imagery of a lit-up Tokyo at night with buildings bathed in neon light and I think if you are a fan of Maxwell than this track is for you. If I ever get the opportunity to speak to her, I will ask Lianne if this song was either written or recorded in the capital of Japan as I would be interested to know.
‘Wonderful’ is quite a dark piece and the finger clicking creates quite an eerie feeling. For me, the song doesn’t quite go anywhere whereas ‘Midnight’ has horns and really kicks it up a gear. The rhythm section are tight and it makes you want to dance. A definite highlight for me in this ten-track collection.
‘Ghost’ has an electric guitar that has a beach vibe and the lyrics are really clever as she sings ‘yesterday was so far away. What’s the ETA?’ As it is a stripped back number her voice is at the forefront and you can tell that she has really thought about how to approach this number. The song wouldn’t work with a heavy musical backing as you wouldn’t be able fully appreciate the song’s tone. Very nicely done.
‘Never Get Enough’ has Lianne let out her rock chick during the chorus as wiry keyboards and guitar weave in and out. The percussion blends with the rock sound really well and finishes off this audio concoction of pop, rock and neo-soul. This album has the songs, the silky smooth vocals and that overall funky attitude. If you enjoy music by artists such as Prince, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Lauryn Hill, The Time, and Shelia E then ‘Blood’ is worth a listen.
Lianne La Havas’s new album ‘Blood’ is out now on Warner Brothers Records. In addition, Lianne will be embarking on a tour of the UK and Ireland in December 2015 at the following venues:
For more information visit: http://www.liannelahavas.com/
2. Green & Gold
3. What You Don’t Do
9. Never Get Enough
10. Good Goodbye