Lianne La Havas: Soul folk sugar

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England spawns smart, lovely songbirds like Adele and Lily Allen and its latest ingénue is Lianne La Havas. 

With jazz-soul production and haunting pipes, comparisons to Norah Jones or Lauren Hill are to be expected.  But La Havas’ style is remarkably original and uplifting. 

“When I started playing the guitar my songwriting changed, I started exploring different ways I could write songs,” Lianne says.

In June and July she showcased her new record in New York City, playing to a packed house at the Village Vanguard.  At The Darby, she appeared alone onstage with her guitar where she wowed the hushed crowd and set the room into a love tizzy.  Small rooms behind her, the artist returns to play Bowery Ballroom in September.

(Old) Fashioned Girl

Lianne’s look is Paris boudoir meets English country road.  She is a retro vision seeped in Sade echoes and jazz guitar.  Songwriting has a through-the-looking-glass sort of poetry that keeps the listener hooked on every syllable so as not to miss a poignant turn of phrase.

“It’s quite an eclectic record,” the singer says.  “There’s an overall theme of love. The sounds are very electric guitar led.”

Guitar lines alternate from harp-like tinkles to rhythmic slide on songs like “Empty” and “No Room For Doubt” and bass-y riffs on her powerful “Forget.”

“My single ‘Is Your Love Big Enough’ means a lot to me because it is not about any of my boyfriends and it’s written literally about a great time I had when I was in New York.” 

With lyrics that are both earnest and whip-smart, La Havas effortlessly weaves whimsical with wise.  Even her blues sparkle.  Dropping in on the artist’s world is a pleasure, her Victorian neckline and cozy-chic side bun package a homespun musical treat. 

“It’s quite easy to write about your pain but you should write about your happiness as well,” she explains.  “It’s just as strong a relationship.”


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