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Lianne La Havas: Soul folk sugar

The 23-year-old singer-songwriter has a debut record "Is Your Love Big Enough," and is touring the U.S. this fall opening for John Legend.

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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