Lianne La Havas // Blood
by Brandi Fullwood on August 4, 2015
Posted in: Album Review, Folk, Jazz, Music, Other, R&B / Soul
Lianne La Havas recently put out her second album, Blood, on July 31st. If you have yet to listen to her before now, not only is a little self reflection necessary, but so is a repeated listen of this album. She has returned from her previous work, Is Your Love Big Enough, in 2012 to present a much more varied and original sound.
The English folk singer-songwriter gained a sizable fan base in 2012, but was easily comparable to artists like Sade or Bill Withers-esque. With Blood, La Havas has become much more inclusive of the soulful and smooth, but also stays true to her foundation. In addition, the album explores a passionate and heavy rock and soul combination in greater depth than in the recent past. Blood is a symbol of the necessary direction of the modern day framework of the indie love song, in lyrics and instrumental production. Her lyrical symbolism does not fall short with the comparison of love to the intangible components of electricity and physics. In wrapping each component in the complexity of blues and soul, La Havas is creating a true household name and sound for herself.
The album’s single, “Unstoppable”, explains how one can be hopeful in a love that it overrides the supernatural. The chimes and shimmery vocals alongside a grooving bass make way for a tone of sincerity often lost in the presentation of upbeat tempo, melancholy love songs. La Havas captures a sound that yearns to tell the truth, all the while beautiful and charming. It is the very confidence of her soulful productions that sets her apart from others.
The presentation of the lyrics in sound and feeling are beguiling, in that they do not reveal how confident and matter of fact the message in songs like “Ghost” are in actuality. La Havas’ lyrics work in contrast with her voice. “Looking for a life beyond the end / Lost somewhere between a foe and friend / Round and round again” explores the cyclical experience and depressing reality of relationships. However, these lyrics like many others on the album are presented in a light and charming, unplugged inspired sound as to preserve the flow of soulfulness and blended melodies. It may take fans awhile to realize that they are vibing to the most intimate and heart-wrenching lyrics.
Despite the album’s acknowledgement of the baffling relief found in addressing dysphoria, its charm makes up for a lot of the potential discomfort that comes with revealing the truth. The ability to grapple with both honesty and emotion allows for the image of the ‘damaged’ woman to wither away and be replaced by the idea of rational exploration as well as truthful acknowledgement in love and life. Her approach to the intricacy of clarity and confidence is a contrast to the desired “more chipper Corrine Bailey Rae”, marketable female image of La Havas. Blood has asserted her position as a complex and multifaceted musician, interested in the development and authenticity of sound.
There is much value and strength to be placed in her internal journey of her identity and emotions, particularly in songs like “Gold & Green” that build on her emotional experiences growing up with a Jamaican and Greek background. The versatility of neo-soul fused with indie pop and soul on “Blood” is a notable characteristic of the album’s range. In “Never Get Enough” La Havas highlights an ability to pull in aspects of her soulful lyrics as well as contributing influences of heavier sounds through bass and riffs much like early 2000’s songs put out by The Black Keys.
Overall, Blood is a shining moment for Lianne La Havas. The development of her artistry is intriguing and awe inspiring, definitely worth a listen (or more, definitely more). This album showcases the best of her production and supports her as an agile and evolving artist. The fluidity of this album is a true testament to pattern and organization.
Lianne La Havas‘ album Blood is out now on Warner Bros. Records and you stream it below on Spotify.
BEST TRACKS: 3, 1, 9, 5, 8, 2
RIYL: Janelle Monae, Laura Mvula, Jessie Ware, Amy Winehouse, Erykah Badu