Lianne La Havas makes her triumphant return from a semi-unintentional five year hiatus with her third self-titled album, released 17th July on Warner Records/Nonesuch.
She first broke into our consciousness back in 2012 with her debut Is Your Love Big Enough?. However, self-admittedly, something about La Havas’ career has just never quite skyrocketed since. She has the complete package; a near-perfect voice, boasting sultry tones that could relax even the most agitated of us, The ability to write songs that move people, and she’s a great guitarist, but it’s taken up to now to find her perfect niche. Taking more creative control on this outfit truly suits her down to a tee.
Lead single Bittersweet sets the tone of the collection of twelve tracks; reflective, sultry and totally badass. Centring on themes of love, loss and new beginnings, it’s the perfect metaphor for everything La Havas has gone through in the culmination of creating this album. Read My Mind is slightly more up-tempo and immediately throws you into the theme of first loves and lust, with the lyric “could make a baby tonight,”. Green Papaya is one of the sombrest moments on the record; a surprising choice for being so early in the album, but nevertheless gorgeous to listen to and continues on the theme of the wonders of love. The jumpy guitar riffs of the intro to Can’t Fight immediately picks up the mood once again with it’s soulful lilt of happiness littered throughout.
Easily the highlight of the album for me is Lianne La Havas’ reimagining of Radiohead’s 2007 track, Weird Fishes. It fits so strangely well and if you had no idea it wasn’t her own original song I don’t think you’d even notice. The acapella breakdown is especially ear-catching, exposing beautiful, well thought out harmony melodies.
Please Don’t Make Me Cry is extremely thought-provoking; lyrics such as, “love comes at a cost, you’ll never know how much has been lost,” resonated extremely deeply with me, as I’m sure it would with anyone who has gone through any kind of break-up. Courage explores themes of loneliness and dealing with loss, and rounds up the story of three parts that have become apparent throughout; the joys of new love, the demise of that love, and finally acceptance of a new reality of being alone. Closer Sour Flower rounds everything out in this sense perfectly; looking to the future of whatever comes next and closing that chapter of her life.
Lianne La Havas new self-titled album is undoubtedly her best work to date. It’s so personal to her and taking more liberties for what she wants instead of being controlled by other forces has clearly been the best decision she could ever make. OccasionalIy it starts to feel like the tone of some of the tracks sometimes merges into one, almost drip-fed enotive pop as you reach the climax of the album although, on the other foot it can be applauded that she has achieved a particular sound and flow that is (Incredibly) consistent throughout. I applaud anyone that has the courage and pride to do things the way they truly want to do them, and I truly hope to hear more of the same from the fantastic voice that is Lianne La Havas.