Lianna La Havas
Blood Album Review
Warner Bros. Records
Released July 31, 2015
Bust out your musical blender and add a whole lot of soul, a little R&B, a touch of jazz and folk, and some pop, too. Mix thoroughly with some great production, and drink up the creation that is Blood. And I mean the album, Blood, by Lianne La Havas which was released at the end of July this year. And while that analogy was totally lame, Lianne La Havas’ sophomore album is definitely not. Though it wasn’t perfect, it still impresses with creative lyrics, fantastic vocals, and an overall positive and uplifting tone.
The album received its name because it is a tribute to La Havas’ Jamaican and Greek heritage, or blood. Get it? This idea is most evident in “Green and Gold,” the second track on the album, which La Havas said was from a real personal experience in discovering her family background. The colors green and gold refer to the Jamaican flag and she also mentions “ancient stone,” which alludes to her Greek blood. This track is mellower and a little softer than “Unstoppable,” which precedes it. “Unstoppable” is a track that really shows off La Havas’ strong voice as well as her artistic abilities. The space-y lyrics and vibe perfectly complement each other. The sound just really allows the listener to picture an atmosphere that La Havas describes with the words: “I was like a satellite spinning away, almost lost forever and leaving no trace, floating through the darkest reaches of space to another galaxy…”
After “Green and Gold,” a notable track follows: “What You Don’t Do.” This track is definitely the most pop-y out of the whole album. It’s very cute and upbeat, with the sweetness of La Havas’ voice, plus the horns, and background singers. Again, she shows very original lyricism by not describing what her lover does, but what he doesn’t do, that shows he loves her. It’s just a really fun track.
“Wonderful” is the softest song on the album; it’s a gentle ballad in which you can just hear and feel the reminiscence and lingering passion in her voice. It’s quieter, but still emotional. “Midnight” is a solid track, too, beginning with some guitar picking, but later filling up with horns and gospel-type background singers, making for a really vibrant sound. I think a little detail that makes this track so much better is its placement in the album. La Havas is really forceful with her voice in “Midnight.” Having it immediately follow such a delicate track creates an awesome ebb and flow effect in the album. To further prove my point, “Grow” and “Ghost” also have guitar picking but the chorus in “Grow” escalates, whereas “Ghost” remains very relaxed and almost folksy. From track to track there’s noticeable changes in pace and style, although some of these are not exactly helpful to the album.
“Never Get Enough” is the different from all the other tracks in that it randomly gets a little heavier with drums, electric guitar, and distorted vocals in the chorus, which you don’t expect from the very beginning of the song. Though it does add to the aforementioned rise and fall effect, it doesn’t really have the uplifting quality that all the other songs possess and edges the album into the wrong direction. It’s almost like it doesn’t belong in this particular album.
Overall, Blood is light, yet moving, and Lianne La Havas is an amazing singer, guitarist, and writer. She is able to become vulnerable, then powerful, and then sweet and soft. The only non-positive thing I would say about it is that it is lacking in progression. It’s not that different from her debut album, Is Your Love Big Enough? She does get a little bit jazzier in Blood but she keeps a lot of the same pop and acoustic styles from her first album. It’s almost like some of the songs from one album could just as easily fit into the other, which some people don’t mind, but most people like to see growth. Based on this album, I think Lianne La Havas is heading in the right direction for the most part, although it appears that she is making small subtle changes at a time. Anyone who is willing to stick it out and wait for her next album will hopefully be greeted by something new and different, but still full of the creativity and beautiful vocals that are so characteristic of her.
FAV TRACKS: Green and Gold, What You Don’t Do, Wonderful, Ghost
LEAST FAV TRACK: Never Get Enough