Album review: Lianne La Havas - Blood
PUBLISHED: 16:41 11 August 2015 | UPDATED: 16:48 11 August 2015
La Havas steps towards the pop-diva limelight with this confident return, says Stephen Moore
This Londoner’s debut landed her Mercury and Ivor Novello nominations at just 23, and after a three-year break she’s back - with added sheen.
It was a combination of La Havas’ poised, delicate but powerful voice and knack for a pop melody that helped gain her attention the first time round, and here she further refines both.
Keeping her focus on love, with lyrics inspired by her Jamaican and Greek heritage, ahe serves up a summery cocktail of smooth, Motown-inspired pop (the sugary swing and backing singers of What You Don’t Do) with a strong sassy kick (the Beyonce-indebted diva in Grow, that’s matched to crunchy beats).
There’s also shots of reflectiveness, loneliness and estrangement (Tokyo’s “I’m out of sight, I’m out of mind”) and positivity - recent single Unstoppable breaks out from a laid-back, groovy lope to a the album’s standout, stop-in-your-tracks vocal.
Unfortunately her gravelly vocal edge is a victim of over-egged production polish, but it seems spurious to complain as she wrings heartfelt pangs of apprehension and sorrow out of the string-laced closing number Good Goodbye.
And it’s hard to resist her invitation to escape to her exciting world in the finger-clicking soul-jazz of Midnight.
Blood has the right ingredients for sure-footed success.