Lianne La Havas’ debut asks the right question and never lets up on the throttle, as though waylaying a dull-witted admirer in the crook of a studio apartment while he holds a cup of coffee as impotent defence.
From South London, La Havas is the exact sort of singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist that should be cornering poor lovers. She has the aggrieved poetry and plain, Sade-soothing tendencies to bury the wrongs and lift the rights. With Is Your Love Big Enough?, she does an awful lot of both and nothing is lost in her many transitions from headache to heartache to others sorts of better aches that pervade with torrents of heat and care.
La Havas is currently sitting on the cliff of becoming one of those uncountable “next big things.” She piled up recognition thanks to a few EPs, scooped a BBC “Sound of 2012” nomination and toured the United States with Bon Iver.
But Is Your Love Big Enough? thrusts the songstress beyond the machinery of hype and into the hearts of listeners. She turns revelations into expressions of joy and creates beauty out of misery, detailing the tenderness as the world sails past in faces of streetcar riders and detached beams of flats flecking the city landscape.
La Havas is soul, folk and pop for the careworn and the careful. Her record flows sweetly with elements of her heroes and influences, but it also features flourishes from her Greek and Jamaican inheritance — like how she handles the guitar and how she turns notes and articulates phrases.
Whether she salutes the eavesdropper Imogen Heap-style (“Don’t Wake Me Up”) or files it down to bone for a bare performance (“Lost & Found”), La Havas can’t mask her honesty. Her knack for conversation, one evinced in fine form in the delicate “No Room for Doubt” with Willy Mason, carries the songs on an organic level.
La Havas also rocks when she plugs in, like on the defiant and funky “Forget,” but her principal advantage is her textured singing. It sparkles like stars peering through London fog, with “Gone” conveying piano-led humanity and a voice comes from another world.
It is hard to imagine that La Havas is still just kissing her 20s, but she is no stranger to laying her cards on the table. Hers is a gift that spans genres and years, shining with transparency and composure. She knows when to hold back and when to open the bottle, pointing perceptions like weapons and sending that dull-witted admirer clambering for his life.
Article originally published at Something Else Reviews.