Lianne La Havas – Blood Review

London’s Lianne La Havas has made a name of herself as someone providing an alternative edge to modern folk and soul music and she’s backed that up with her recent live performances on Jools Holland in promotion of her upcoming second studio album Blood. The album follows on from her 2012 debut Is Your Love Big Enough and demonstrated those aforementioned qualities set around her easy listening vocal, but it can turn out to be the devil in disguise if you weigh too heavily upon a strong vocal. Doing so could leave an album flat and predictable so with her second album, Lianne can’t afford to do such a thing.

‘What You Don’t Do’ offers an example of Lianne as an alternative soul artist. The track features warped piano chords set against her clear and smooth vocals. The distorted bass lines also give the song a different type of rhythm whilst remaining serviceable to her confident and soulful melodies that dictate the feel of the song. It’s a refreshing, yet still faithful take on a familiar genre. ‘Green and Gold’ is evocative of the album’s tone and inspiration as she sings about her Jamaican and Greek heritage. The track features a faded and relaxed riff with a nudging beat to generate an intimate musical feel. This is reinforced by Lianne’s easy, breathy vocal which remains in close proximity to the sounds around her. This soft base is occasionally left as she gently raises her tone for the chorus, but the track in general is laid back and intimate in it’s nature and never abandons this for a forced piece of theatre or drama. It stays in it’s groove and whilst not being anything spectacular, it certainly is a honed and refined track. ‘Unstoppable’ has a prominent bass line groove which sets the foundation of the song from which Lianne’s cool vocal rises from to it’s tonal extremities, aided by the lifting strings, piano and percussion. These easily move in and out of the foreground to leave the song with it’s bass and vocal isolation, yet slip back into prominence for the songs chorus.

‘Midnight’ is accompanied by the typical light brass instrumentation, but the song retains interest through the arrangement and production is it shifts in and out of audible focus and is tinged with a light warping effect. The more intimate tracks such as ‘Wonderful’ and ‘Good Goodbye’ are slight non-events as they’re done very typically and whilst still having a solid quality to them, there is nothing much to take note of with these ballads. Other songs such as ‘Tokyo’ are again familiar with their soft lapping acoustic tones, but having said that a rhythmic quality is forged from it and the song gradually becomes a slick, effortless affair. The issue with the album tracks here is that she has a difficult job to with what is very standard instrumentation and though occasionally some intricate improvements are made it is not enough to create really dynamic tracks and perhaps the lyrical quality of these tracks are lacking a little compared to the singles. This is still a very solid album though and the fact she’s managed to make it so demonstrates the quality of the delivery and production but it there’s certainly room for advancement here.

Lianne La Havas – Blood = 7.5/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

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