Lianne La Havas: Lianne La Havas (Nonesuch) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, August 8th, 2020  

Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas


Jul 16, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Fans of British singer/songwriter Lianne La Havas’ 2015 album Blood have been waiting for five years for the follow up. Those years were hard fought for La Havas. Her deft guitar playing and soaring vocals may have earned her fans ranging from Coldplay to Prince in that time, yet the journey towards her newest record was far from easy. Following her sophomore record, intense touring, self doubt, and the loss of family members and mentors all took their toll. Fortunately, her persistence has resulted in Lianne La Havas, a thoroughly authentic and confident work that shows La Havas at her most open. 

The album has a vital, live feel to the performances, capturing the energy of a sun-drenched friendly jam session more than a meticulously polished studio product. La Havas describes the process as liberating. As her first self-produced album, made with her own band, it captures La Havas’ singular vision for her music; it is both a product of close collaboration and one of refreshing honesty. She chose to work with longtime collaborators and friends such as co-producer Mura Masa. It creates an exceedingly genuine voice to the record. 

La Havas’ voice and guitar playing continue to be the main attraction here. While she is able to bring out intimate and moving grooves on “Seven Times” and “Paper Thin,” she shows herself to be an absolute powerhouse on “Bittersweet” and “Sour Flower.” Her warm guitar style is equally adaptable. She draws from vintage soul on “Read My Mind” while finding a tropical guitar sound on “Green Papaya,” that is both deeply romantic and candid in its sensuality. She sings, “Found heaven in you/Promise to be pure and true” before inviting the subject to “Take me home/Let’s make real love.” 

She also perfectly channels art rock on her shadowy cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes.” By replacing the song’s guitar arpeggios with eerie synths La Havas makes the introduction of her guitar in the song’s iconic climax all the more effective. Indeed, La Havas describes the cover as the origin point for the album’s organic sound. It is easy to see why that was the case. The intersection of styles and lively energy elevates La Havas’ take on the song to stand aside the original. 

La Havas brings an easy sense of assuredness to the record, opening by declaring on “Bittersweet,” “Bittersweet summer rain/I’m born again.” In the five intervening years between Blood and Lianne La Havas, La Havas cultivated a hard fought maturity that has her sounding more comfortable in her own skin than ever. That confidence is captivating and powerful on “Sour Flower” when La Havas asserts her own independence amidst a soaring vocal performance. It perfectly captures the back porch summer feel of the record and La Havas’ unguarded authenticity that makes the five year wait for the record worth it. 

Lianne La Havas is a different woman than the one who wrote Blood. Every year of growth can be heard on this record, in her voice and her lyrics. The album takes La Havas’ struggles and losses and turns them into a display of the most true version of herself and her artistic vision. Yet she does so with such comforting ease and easygoing style that it is immediately accessible to even new listeners. In creating a record that is so unabashedly true to herself La Havas delivers her best work yet. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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