Release Date: Jul 31, 2015
Record label: Nonesuch
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
To mindlessly say that Lianne La Havas makes 'love songs' is a crime of colossal proportions. In the millennial age, love songs are typically the flimsy here’s-my-number-so-call-me-maybe sentiment of teenage antipathy, or rappers contrasting the everlasting affections for their 'main chick' with the ephemeral titillation their groupies provide. No, La Havas is concerned with that seemingly antiquated, chivalric notion of love as an overwhelming sensation, taking cues from the uninhibited howls of Aretha Franklin’s 'I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You' and the open diary vulnerability of Joni Mitchell’s Blue.
After she completed extensive touring in support of Is Your Love Big Enough?, Lianne La Havas visited Jamaica with her native Jamaican mother and connected with distant relatives. Additionally inspired by her Greek roots through her father -- hence the album's title -- and possibly fortified by her experiences recording with Prince, Alt-J, and Tourist, Blood is no mere rehash of the Top Five U.K. debut that preceded it.
From Paloma Faith backing singer to Prince’s protégé, Lianne La Havas sheds herself of the stale ‘English singer-songwriter’ tag with second record ‘Blood’ and emerges as something much bigger in this extreme case of musical metamorphosis – a star. Lead single ‘Unstoppable’ forefronts the album. A lifting veil of shimmering neo-soul that floats delicately in front of real force, it’s like a sun lounger on rapids.
Blood seems like an odd title for Lianne La Havas' sophomore album. One's immediate word associations veer to the macabre, to violence, to pain, to maybe loss. But of course, blood is also what drives us; it's the proof of our lineage, the ineradicable lubricant of a working heart and mind. It's in that context that the London singer/songwriter's title choice begins to make sense, and also encourages us to explore deeper themes across the record.The two initial singles, "Unstoppable" and "What You Don't Do," are both celebratory proclamations of the promise and power in coupledom.
Ladies and gentlemen. Children of all ages. Cats. Dogs. Animals of all kind. Please turn your attention to the stage. Put your hands together. Be ready to give a warm welcome. Cheer as loud as you can. Get out of your seats. And say hello to … Ms. Lianne La Havas! Ms. Lianne La Havas is different ….
The English songwriter Lianne La Havas may be young, but her voice marries youthful lightness with a gravitas most often ascribed to artists well beyond her 25 years. Blood, her second album, builds on the immutable grace of Is Your Love Big Enough?, her 2012 debut. Whereas Is Your Love Big Enough? looks outward for validation, Blood is dynamic and poignantly self-assured in its introspection.
Lianne La Havas starts her second album in a moment of triumph. At its roots, “Unstoppable” is technically a breakup song about a relationship the London singer couldn’t seem to pull away from — “It’s just gravitational/ We are unstoppable,” she sings. But like much of her sophomore effort, Blood, the single transcends its own inspiration.
Big is better, right? That’s the question Lianne La Havas was effectively asking with first album Is Your Love Big Enough?, two years ago. Now she returns, turning up the volume as she does so. Clearly she is blossoming as a vocalist, her development no doubt helped by recent songwriting and performing encounters with Prince. While the more acoustic approach of the first album suited a coquettish and relatively shy interior, Blood often throws caution to the winds as La Havas gets close to the mic, widens her vibrato, throws her head back and sings for all she is worth.
When we first met Lianne La Havas, on her 2012 debut, she was a South London 22-year-old coming of age, electric guitar in hand. Plucking out rhythm lines that sounded like bossa nova gone rockabilly, she sang about love's ups and downs in a voice that moved from gold to gravel in a blink, intertwining strength and vulnerability. On her second album, she still strums and fingerpicks like an alt-folkie, but that new sound you hear is bass, and plenty of it.
Prince does not appear on this second album by Londoner Lianne La Havas, despite the purple one’s comeback gig in her living room last year. She does just fine without the distraction. Blood finds La Havas considering her Jamaican and Greek roots – the Blood of the title, a song called Green and Gold – and tackling romance from a wide array of approaches, from classy soul-jazz shimmers to the sulky electronic rock of Never Get Enough.
Lianne La Havas hasn’t quite mastered the art of writing music to match the arresting power and beauty of her voice. Its quivering vibrato and explosive upper range make for addictive listening that, after all, was part of what grabbed critics’ attention on her 2012 Mercury prize-nominated debut, Is Your Love Big Enough? Blood also primarily concerns itself with love, relationships and identity, but drifts into tasteful MOR pop, remedied momentarily by Midnight’s raw, breaking vocal. La Havas’s lyrics can be wonderfully expressive, likening a combusting love affair to the cosmos on single Unstoppable, or using a neon sign to embody the hollow chill of leaving a lover behind on Tokyo.
Lianna La Havas' latest, "Blood,' is a bland pop makeover for the British artist. Lianna La Havas' latest, "Blood,' is a bland pop makeover for the British artist. Lianne La Havas, a Prince-endorsed U.K. singer and songwriter with an acclaimed debut album to her credit, wants more on "Blood" (Warner).
British singer/songwriter Lianne La Havas's second album is a bland entry into the world of play-it-safe pop, where every turn of phrase - however striking - feels calculated and each emotion deeply considered. La Havas has an expressive voice that's flighty and smoky, and she sometimes recalls Leslie Feist, especially on the Jamie Lidell-produced single Green & Gold. That's one of three bouncy tunes - along with Unstoppable and What You Don't Do - that open the record and position her as a model of poise and grace.
A young artist with an old soul and a sage voice, Lianne La Havas was destined to be heard. When the British singer-songwriter released her debut, “Is Your Love Big Enough?” in 2012, she sounded fresh but also familiar. Her songs flickered with the quiet grace of acoustic-soul innovators (Bill Withers) and regal pop singers (Sade). La Havas never raised her voice on that first album because she didn’t have to; her singing and guitar playing expressed volumes.
?At the tender age of 25, Lianne Charlotte Barnes is returning to her roots, as the title of her follow-up to Is Your Love Big Enough? emphasises. La Havas directly considers her heritage on a record which showcases her style, versatility and elegance. With refreshing directness, "Green & Gold" channels La Havas’ mixed ancestry. She pins her Jamaican colours to the mast through the vibrant “green and gold” aspects of that flag.