From sophisticated soul-jazz to harsh, rough rock, La Havas' sophomore album showcases her vocal and production talent, only slightly marred by a few less-sophisticated lyrics.
Lianne La Havas has returned this week with her highly anticipated follow-up to Mercury Prize and Ivor Novello nominated 2012 debut Is Your Love Big Enough? and with it comes bursts of confidence, power and pure talent strengthened by effortless velvety vocals, over sometimes simple and less-sophisticated lyrics and melodies.
Album opener, ‘Unstoppable’, the first single to be released from Blood, is a bold move and an even bolder claim. La Havas immediately sets her record and new image up as gutsy, confident and of course, unstoppable. With the track’s opening crescendo, catchy melody and chorus, La Havas exudes an air of confidence only heightened by the beautiful accompanying video which sees the South Londoner occupy and transform a mundane space into that of unrestrained movement, full of confidence.
Being influenced by an interest in her mixed heritage of Greek and Jamaican following a first-time trip to Jamaica, bursts of an identity questioning and subsequent reclaiming of her image and culture appear throughout the record, more vocally on ‘Green & Gold’ which sees the artist question “those eyes you gave to me”. But throughout the album there is a clear juxtaposition of sounds, vocal tones and emotions, emphasising this new interest in both personal identity and production and that of her self-reflecting music.
From the melancholic tones of ‘Wonderful’ and ‘Ghost’, to the heavy Paloma Faith-esque brass, the album presents La Havas as an artist capable of evoking a range of emotions with her powerful vocal composure. ‘Never Get Enough’ stands out in the record as a track that highlights this exact idea.
Premiered at this year’s Glastonbury festival, ‘Never Get Enough’ received an incredible audience reaction, and rightly so. Beginning in La Havas’ usual fashion with a mellow guitar introduction and soft velvety vocals, the track takes a turn as it becomes a heavy, rock-inspired piece, to then flick back to La Havas’ sweet tone. The song fleets between the two musical spheres, emphasising La Havas’ vocal talents, brilliant production, and certainty as an artist. The track brings the album back to life just as the lyrics and melodies begin to fuse into one.
But with her quivering folk-like vocals at one end of the album, to upbeat jazz and indie melodies on the other, Blood showcases La Havas’ strong vocals and confident production. Her brilliant presence on any stage, whether that be in BBC’s Live Lounge just recently or at the overwhelming Glastonbury festival, will undoubtedly bring this album to life.
Blood is out now via Warner Bros. Records.