Review by Sophie Small
London-based singer songwriter, Lianne La Havas is one of my favourite discoveries over the last 18 months. So when I was asked to review her newest album ‘Blood’ following the success of her debut album, there was no way I could turn down the offer.
The album is inspired by Lianne’s family heritage and her time spent in Jamaica following the tour of her debut album ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’. The journey through Jamaica with her mother was one of self-discovery and experiences as she was reunited with long lost relatives and performed in front of her family for the first time with the legendary reggae producer, Stephen McGregor.
‘Blood’ is an eclectic mix of tracks all with the reoccurring theme of Lianne’s soulful sounds and tremolo polishes. Throughout the album there’s strong influences from a variety of genres making each song as exciting and interesting as the next.
The first track ‘Unstoppable’ sets the album off with, as the title name suggests, an uplifting, motivational vibe that makes you feel like you could take on the world. The track starts with eerie vocals, which slowly ascend, becoming more powerful until they merge into a stripped back introduction, allowing Lianne to show off her vocals and immediately make her stamp on the album. As the track builds, the reggae beats, a rising synth and distorted, staccato notes back up the overall enriching message of the track.
Without doing a track-by-track rendition, each song took me by surprise as I went through the album. Although the album in its entirety is obviously influenced by reggae and blues themes, each song is so different. Her soulful voice is complete with a perfect balance of power, soul and shake and it brings it all together. She’s also managed to unite her own unique sounds as well as her influences to create a commercially sound album, which as a singer-songwriter means she’s pretty much nailed it.
There is also a darker side to this album than her previous work. I mentioned this briefly before but between various verses and choruses throughout the album there are some eerie electric guitar solos and synth sounds that break up the upbeat blues riffs running through the tracks. I would be interested to know what part of her journey inspired these sounds. They do not disrupt the tracks but it is an interesting turn throughout the album. One of the songs on the album, ‘Tokyo’ is particularly influenced by this theme.
Overall it is a fantastic album. I actually had to listen to it twice before I started writing because I was getting so distracted by my thorough enjoyment. If I was not a fan before I most definitely am now. It’s not just musically sound and uplifting but it’s also an interesting album, and that sells it for me. Lianne La Havas has definitely found her sound as an artist and it’s an album worth investing in.