Lianne La Havas- 'Blood'
On December 13th of this year I was standing in a mosh pit in Sydney waiting for Coldplay to begin their live show. It was just over an hour out from their scheduled 8:15pm start, and I for one had been prepared to wait for hours for my favourite live band in a stadium packed with thousands of people, but it was starting to get to me. The first warm up act had come and gone. It was fine, but as most warm acts do, didn’t really leave much of an impression. But then, at 7:15pm, the second warm up act walked onto the stage: a gorgeous young lady in a flowing black dress, with a gorgeous black Gibson guitar in hand. She and her band captivated the audience with a hypnotic little song called ‘Tokyo’, and I (along with my girlfriend and Lucy, my Coldplay buddy) for the next forty-five minutes was treated to a stunning show. A good warm up artist?! What?!
That artist was Lianne La Havas, a UK singer songwriter and amazing guitar player. Immediately after the show (when I’d recovered from seeing Coldplay), I went out in search of her, and came across her most recent album, Blood. Here I was, with no expectations, discovering an artist for the first time. What I got blew me away: a gorgeous, soulful and folky record!
Blood was released in 2015 by La Havas, and is her sophomore effort. This record did much to bring her into the public eye in her native UK. What La Havas has going for her is her stunning voice, especially on songs like ‘Grow’ and the lead single ‘Unstoppable’ that show her capabilities as a soulful singer, her gorgeous finger guitar playing on tracks like ‘Ghost’ and ‘Tokyo’, and her song writing and unique lyrical stances, such as examining her Greek and Jamaican heritage on ‘Green & Gold’, or the incredibly refreshing ‘What You Don’t Do’, a gorgeous love song where Havas sings about what her lover doesn’t do: such as lie or misbehave behind her back, that proves to her his love.
This is complimented by some stunning production choices, with booming percussion and bass complimenting many of the themes of the tracks. ‘Unstoppable’, with its laidback style, crescendo string sections and easy-going percussion works with such elegance, it makes the listener feel like you are in a dance. Similarly, ‘Green & Gold’ is complemented by beautiful background singers that makes the listener feel like they are lying in the afternoon sun on a tropical island, sipping a cocktail.
The only misfire of the record is the overproduced track ‘Never Get Enough’, which suffers from bizarre production choices and clashing contrast between the verses and chorus. Additionally, while some (like myself) may fall in love immediately, for others this record may be like a fine wine: it is a record for a patient listener, and may require multiple listeners to fully get into.
Regardless, this poignant record is a real achievement. For someone only on their second record, La Havas has a maturity and presence that few artists have. She, along with this record, feels genuine in thought and deed. In our world of increasingly superficial values being the apparent foundation for all that matters (particularly in regards to artists and celebrities), it’s that genuineness that makes you appreciate it more.
Lianne La Havas- 'Tokyo'
Lianne La Havas- 'Unstoppable'