Lianne La Havas’ new album ‘Blood’ is a nod to her Jamaican family and heritage

Lianne La Havas at Wilton's Music Hall

A post by Peter Jordens.

Kitty Empire and Harriet Gibsone of The Guardian review Lianne La Havas’s upcoming new album, Blood, due out July 31, 2015.

Four years ago, this former Paloma Faith backing singer was an emerging songwriter with a number of appealing inconsistencies. Despite packing the sort of lung power associated with soul and R&B, her debut album, Is Your Love Big Enough?, was full of winsome tunes that deftly skirted genres. La Havas played a blue electric guitar. She was half-Greek (her dad taught her to play), half-Jamaican (her grandparents raised her) […]. Now, of course, the 25-year-old La Havas is probably most famous as the woman whose east London living room last year served as the location for a press conference by Prince. The two connected when Prince admired La Havas’s music and invited her to Paisley Park for a jam. La Havas sang on Prince’s Art Official Age comeback album and performed with him on Saturday Night Live, an undeniable fillip to her profile as a versatile artist. […]

In a few weeks, her status might have changed once again, from purple protégée to the UK’s latest transatlantic export. La Havas’s second album, Blood (“nothing to do with anything gruesome, but family and heritage and bloodlines”), is due out at the end of July, and it should play well. […]

[… F]amily and identity are at the core of Blood. The record was largely inspired by a holiday she and her mother went on, to Christiana in Jamaica, where a lot of her extended family still live. “It was very emotional to meet that family at the airport. I hadn’t seen my aunt since I was about five. She used to live with us in London then went back to Jamaica and got married, so I hadn’t seen her for ages. I was like: am I going to recognise her? Is she going to recognise me? But she did, and I did, and I just started crying.”

Lianne La Havas (c) Andy Hall The Guardian 2015 (1)

During her exploration of the country, La Havas met reggae and dancehall star Stephen McGregor, also known as Di Genius, son of the veteran reggae artist Freddie McGregor. She went to Kingston for two days and began to feel “strangely at home” in their studio. “It was then I realised that that’s my job and that’s what I do – I go to studios and jam. I felt really relaxed. That caused the need to go back a second time, which was when I had this amazing trip and wrote lots of songs.” […]

[…] ‘Green and Gold’ describes her staring at her nose in the mirror as a child, contemplating her identity (and, perhaps even more endearingly, whether “the mirror world goes on forever”). Many Caribbean conversions fall prey to a clutch of crude stereotypes: a fug of ganja here, a reggae pastiche there. But ‘Green and Gold’ is all finger-clicks and neo-soul, and nods to her Greek ancestry in the “ancient stones” of the chorus. And yet while she is far from becoming “Lion” La Havas, there is a reggae-derived righteousness on ‘Grow’, the album’s sucker punch. La Havas straps on an acoustic guitar and croons about resisting evil, before a climactic chorus finds her emoting powerfully near the ceiling of her range.

The rest isn’t quite so compelling, merely functional. […] Blood is not without its moments of easy listening. But there is something unusual about her music compared to the rest of the millennials currently selling records. There is no trace of London Grammar’s quarter-life crisis, nor is there Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran and Adele’s hankering for long-term commitment, for joint bank accounts, for settling down. Lurking beneath the serenity, La Havas, with her astral love affairs and first-name terms with the most libidinous man alive, is a star. Floating through the darkest reaches of space.

For the two complete, original articles, go to http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/may/24/lianne-la-havas-review-from-purple-protegee-tomorrows-transatlantic-star and http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/may/31/lianne-la-havas-interview-prince.

For more about Lianne La Havas, see our previous post Lianne La Havas – cool and mercurial music artist.

Listen to ‘Unstoppable’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFic-xaLsPs (official video). Live performance recordings of other songs from Blood can also be found online.

Photo credits: Andy Hall, The Guardian (mirror) or Gus Stewart, WireImage (on stage).

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