Her album may have only just arrived, but I’ve been enraptured by Lianne La Havas for eight months already.
It was listening to the 22-year-old singer-songwriter from south London explain how she met Willy Mason on the Victoria line (via the Huey Show), which led to them collaborating on her debut single ‘No Room For Doubt’, that got me to pay attention. “We all make mistakes, we do / I learn from you”, she sang, cleansing my mind inexplicably of the worries that lay within.
Lianne La Havas is a great artist who has only begun to blossom. There is sincerity in her words and the music she makes. Her songs might seem safe compared to some of the bombastic genre-mash-ups of late, but it is the vigour with which she articulates herself that captures your attention – and your heart soon after.
Adele captured the imagination of millions last year with her album of pop-friendly blues songs, fuelled by the hurt of her a break-up. The inspirations are similar for Havas. Her soft, mellifluous tones are made more impetuous by the lullaby melodies present in the likes of ‘Lost & Found’ and ‘Elusive’. But there are plenty of shades to her character on display in her album.
“Somebody to retrieve my long, lost soul” she bellows on ‘Age’, her voice approaching the husky timbre of an Aretha Franklin or Etta James. On title track ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’, Havas let’s rip with a bountiful guitar salvo, while singing about a sweltering city and dancing off drunkenness. It’s audacious stuff.
Havas is telling a story with the songs on this album. Compassionately, she interrupts the wistful reflectiveness of a relationship breakdown. But at no point does it feel crabby or overdramatic. In fact, it’s actually quite heroic in parts. For instance, as she sings about guys and girls on the silver screen with flawless vocal delivery in ‘Au Cinema’. Or on the album’s closing track, a rousing crescendo that sees Havas summoning all her will, singing “They say our love won’t last forever/they could be wrong”.
The of essence of Lianne La Havas’ debut LP rests in the sincerity and simple genius of her lyrics, which encapsulate its theme of love: from desire to infatuation, compassion to devotion, and beyond. Few modern records compliment life’s most precious moments as agreeably as this triumphant debut.
Image: Warner Bros. Records