Release Date: Aug 7, 2012
Record label: Nonesuch
"I found myself in a secondhand guitar," sings London chanteuse Lianne La Havas on the title track of her debut album. That's not idle talk. La Havas, just 22, is a natural who uses her six-string acoustic and her husky R&B croon to create songs that fall winningly between categories: part Bill Withers-esque neo-soul, part Bon Iver-style indie folk, with punchier beats than you'd expect and welcome detours into Sade's plush bedroom.
I have heard the future of empowered female vocalists and her name is Lianne La Havas. The British-born La Havas has the vocal chops of Beyoncé and the songwriting prowess that is matched by so few artists of her ilk. It isn’t often that audiences are given so much all at once from such a young artist, and listeners will find Is Your Love Big Enough? worthy of many repeat listens.
Possessing a traffic-stopping voice that begs to have adjectives thrown at it that would be better off describing coffee or fabric, Lianne La Havas’ display of natural talent is irrefutable. However, the British songstress’s debut album Is Your Love Big Enough? exhibits no ambition greater than her goal to become the Norah Jones of R & B. Inoffensive to the nth degree, this is a sleeping pill, not the double espresso we ordered.
During late 2011 and early 2012, Lianne La Havas released a studio EP and a live EP, performed on Later…with Jools Holland, toured with Bon Iver, and was nominated for BBC's Sound of 2012 poll, which was won by fellow hybridist Michael Kiwanuka. Like Bon Iver and Kiwanuka, this native of London, England could be termed folk, but there are streaks of jazz and soul -- with adult alternative pop/rock as the pigeonhole -- in her debut album, produced by Matt Hales (aka Aqualung). Her material would fit on playlists that include not just the above-mentioned artists, but José James, Jessie Ware, Norah Jones, and Corinne Bailey Rae, as well as Scott Matthews, whose "Elusive" is covered here.
Young British singer/songwriter Lianne La Havas spent last fall touring with Bon Iver. So, depending on how cynical you are, the unknown La Havas either got really lucky or is a label pet pushing innocuous guitar-based soul. The latter is gleaned easily from a cursory listen to her debut record of frothy, pleasant R&B chanson. But spend more time with it and you can hear raw potential beneath the layers of careful, big-budget production.
This risks sounding catty, but the most appealing thing about Lianne La Havas' debut album is how imperfect it is. She is a work-in-progress, with lots of room to grow. Her lyrics have the raw, repetitive feel of diary entries, which is good in Lost & Found (the chorus, "you broke me and taught me to truly hate myself", is savagely bleak), bad in No Room for Doubt: "I could go solo," she dithers, "would that be the right thing to do?" Her ballads, whose restrained piano or guitar accompaniments never detract from her silken, huskily emotional voice, are elegant but lifeless.
For those of us who grew up on a romantic notion of soul music being in some way countercultural, its reduction to a supermarket commodity, sat in a basket next to the latest Grazia, can be dispiriting. A quick glance at the CV of south Londoner Lianne La Havas suggests that she's being packaged by the music business as the next tasteful artist off the production line. La Havas has something, though.
After a pair of acclaimed EPs, BBC Sound of 2012 nomination, and US tour spot with Bon Iver, South London songstress Lianne La Havas has already attracted a fair number of plaudits. Her full-length debut, Is Your Love Big Enough?, is likely to consolidate her breakthrough. Being the “next big thing” may have its drawbacks, not least in terms of the expectations it brings, but on the strength of this record, La Havas has the skills to cope.
Extremely eager to shrug off unwanted comparisons to the likes of Andreya Triana (and, at worst, Corinne Bailey Rae), 22-year-old Londoner Lianne La Havas has got herself some show-stealing synths for her debut album. There are plenty of jazz inflections and echoing smoky vocals, which is undoubtedly where the Triana and CBR comparisons come from, and a rising and falling energy. The up-tempo pop moments are over-layered and jarring, packed with a host of bleeps and chopped samples (see: ‘Forget’).
Lianne La Havas Whether she’s exulting in love, bemoaning its pains or exacting some revenge, there’s usually a lilt, a syncopated crosscurrent, in the songs on Lianne La Havas’s debut album, “Is Your Love Big Enough?” (Nonesuch). Ms. La Havas, a 22-year-old Londoner, wrote and recorded the album with her producer, Matt Hales (a k a Aqualung), and they often assemble complex, glistening layers around a low-fi core — probably the “secondhand guitar” she sings about in the title song.
London, UK singer/guitarist, and the latest next big thing to emerge from the UK music scene, Lianne La Havas has released her debut album, Is Your Love Big Enough? What strikes you initially is the innocence and beauty contained in La Havas's jazz-infused voice. Sweet, sensual and soulful, La Havas is a singer worthy of comparisons to Sade, blended with contemporary R&B influences. There are some great tracks – a standout being gorgeous opener "Don't Wake Me Up" – but, at times, it veers a bit too far into the saccharine, with the playing, unlike the singing, lacking a bit of soul.
A strong and skilfully delivered debut set from the tipped Londoner. Chris Lo 2012 After her breakthrough performance on Later... with Jools Holland in October 2011, the career of London-born folk/soul crooner Lianne La Havas has bounced from one adventure to the next. Two well-received EPs, a BBC Sound of 2012 nomination and a high-profile support slot on Bon Iver's North American tour, all before her debut album has come out.