Album Review: Lianne La Havas – ‘Blood’

Lianne La Havas created quite a storm with her debut album ‘Is Your Love Big Enough’ back in 2012, now she’s back with her latest release ‘Blood‘ but can she replicate such a resounding success… 

She was nominated for a Mercury Prize and two MOBO awards off the back of her debut album with a unique brand of indie-pop, soul and folk fusion. Now following a string of appearances on other artists’ works and three-years’ more experience, her second album ‘Blood’ certainly has a lot to live up to.

Lianne La Havas - 'Blood', released on Warner Brothers.

Lianne La Havas – ‘Blood’, released on Warner Brothers.

What is immediately apparent is that the rich, acoustic orientated approach of the first album has developed into a much braver and more evolved sound. Atmospheric opener ‘Unstoppable‘ thickly weaves layers of synths and vocals creating an ethereal RnB track that is a far cry from the more twee, folky numbers we’ve become accustomed to. It’s certainly an impactful statement of intent, it’s no wonder that it was chosen as the lead single release.

It’s a good advert for the rest of the album too, showcasing  an obvious development in her song writing since her debut. ‘Green & Gold‘ and ‘Tokyo‘ follow with a similar groove, but allow La Havas’s subtle, yet effective guitar work to shine through – a feature that is just as pleasing to hear on her new album as it was on her first. ‘Blood’ certainly isn’t a one trick pony though with ‘Wonderful‘ and particularly ‘Ghost‘ breaking things up with a softer side, some of the sweet acoustic nuances have been borrowed from her debut and embellished with aplomb.

I do have one gripe however and it isn’t really anything to do with La Havas or her songwriting, some tracks don’t quite hit the spot due to being over produced. ‘What You Don’t Do‘ and ‘Midnight‘ slightly overstep the mark in trying to be too radio friendly with doo-wop styling and fake sounding brass sections, of course there is always this pressure from the labels on producers but in my opinion this is actually to the detriment of these two songs.

Conversely, ‘Never Get Enough‘ interrupts a smooth acoustic guitar melody to introduce an electric guitar riff and drum beat that reminds you of the rock band Placebo’s ‘Pure Morning, which is rather unexpected and odd sounding really.

At only ten tracks long it’s a short listen, but quality is always preferable over quantity and in the age of the single download this is still pretty good effort at making a well thought out album. Sure there’s the odd track that raises the eyebrows a bit and probably won’t make it onto your favourite playlists, but the rest of the album certainly makes up for that with quality songwriting, musicianship and production. It’s always difficult to seemingly grow and develop as an artist without losing what people like about you from before, especially when following up on such a successful debut. ‘Blood’ just manages it though with an assured performance despite the odd weaker track. Definitely worth a listen for those who enjoy some contemporary soul and RnB tunes!


Author: Steve, Bristol Store