Written by Maria Arroyo
The incredible British singer/songwriter and guitarist, Lianne La Havas, shares her third self-titled album. “This is my first completely self-produced album with my own band. I got my own way with everything–all the decisions that you hear on this album were mine,” she shares. “I’m a woman now, so I’m less shy and timid about saying certain things. And there’s no right or wrong when it’s your record, so I was very much embracing that fact, as well.”
Lianne La Havas has created beautifully-executed songs and albums time after time, and this new release is no exception. “I’ve tapped into the best and worst parts of me and while I didn’t expect this to be the direction of my new music, it’s my reality and it’s driven by emotion,” she says. “I dare say that this is the closest I’ve gotten to a pure expression so far. If you’d never heard me before, I’d be happy to say, ‘This is me. This is who I am.'”
Her opening song “Bittersweet” has her very noticeable R&B style throughout the song, which is accompanied by such a lovely arrangement. La Havas has a great sense of her sound, and what her voice can really do, and she doesn’t hold back in her incredible range and intense vibrato that carries the song. I love this as an opener because it’s so damn strong and takes the listener on a journey from beginning to end.
“Read My Mind” has a nice funk and soul mix that works well with her incredibly beautiful voice. Her understanding of song structure shines through this song and so many others on this record. Bringing a more intimate vibe to the table is her next song “Green Papaya.” I really loved this song for its intimacy and dreamy/spacey like approach.
The song that started this whole album is “Paper Thin.” La Havas shares that “Paper Thin” “started as a distant melody in my head as I was falling asleep that I decided not to sleep on. It was recorded as a jam between friends and has stayed that way.” The song is so well done and creates such a soft and beautiful sound. The lyrics are very relatable, and I personally resonated with her story on an even deeper level than I anticipated.
Her interlude song “Out Of Your Mind” starts off with some whispered vocals that grow, both in volume and intensity. It becomes a nice break for the album to really soak in everything that you previously listened to, and appreciate what’s coming next. While La Havas wrote all of her own music, she does pay homage to another group with the only cover on the record, “Weird Fishes” by Radiohead. While there are inklings of the original song, she does such a great job of submerging it into her soulful sound. There’s tons of high points and softer moments that when put together, create a beautiful and emotion-filled piece.
“Please Don’t Make Me Cry” is another great song with a great rhythmic drive. I love her overlapping vocals throughout the song, which made this song another huge favorite of mine. It’s a more intimate feel with a full balance and understanding of a more vast spectrum of sounds which created an even bigger space for the song to explore. Every word she sings can be felt on an even deeper level. For those of you who dissect songs to find something new to listen for with every rewind, will love picking through this song.
This next song brings a feel of a live performance with her cute intro right before the music starts. “Seven Times” is saturated with a strong rhythmic focus to drive the song. While she keeps things familiar with repetition for us to follow along, she manages to add little changes to every section to keep our listen more active, rather than cruising through the song.
Bringing her incredibly fulfilling, self-titled album to a close is her final song “Sour Flower.” Thankfully, the ending is just as intense and mind-blowing as when it started! I see all too often where artists put everything they have into the first song, but then the closer just doesn’t measure up for whatever reason. In this case, she finishes off even stronger vocally than she did at the beginning, and the amazing jam out session that ends the record couldn’t be better.
Lianne La Havas explores different sounds of R&B, funk and soul, and even some rock as well. I’m so happy this record surpassed my high levels of expectation, so please go check it out!
Connect with Lianne La Havas