English songwriter Lianne La Havas has built upon the success of her critically acclaimed debut album with –Blood– released late last month. Inspired by her trip to Jamaica in an effort to regain a connection with her roots, she cites the album as homage to her Greek and Jamaican bloodline, hence the album title. La Havas steps away from her previous acoustic sound, sourcing a variety of elements from soul and jazz through to reggae and doo-wop. An exciting fusion of sounds and textures, the album bursts with love and tender nostalgia, transporting you to a time and place you never experienced, yet reflect upon fondly.
Unstoppable – the first single of the album – is meditative, ethereal and equally as playful. The soaring vocal line and La Havas’ unique vibrato are complemented perfectly by an infectiously funky bass line. It’ll leave you choreographing an interpretive dance sequence in your head.
Green and Gold is groovy and a little sexy. The seamless blending of time signatures between the thumping bass line and lilting acoustic guitar perfectly accompanies La Havas’ strong alto range. What You Don’t Do follows suit; it’s a sweet, swinging, soulful love-song. The wonderful vocal blend of the gospel chorus is a standout.
Tokyo begins with the faint murmuring of a city street and with it a free-flowing acoustic melody. Once the track starts grooving along, the slap bass and falsetto vocal-backing transform the track into something reminiscent of a disco-era ballad.
Wonderful is sultry and earnest. Gorgeously layered, airy vocals and the strings section create a ghostly atmosphere. In contrast, Midnight brings us back down to earth with its blasting brass and robust vocal line. An effortlessly cool track, it is a true testament to La Havas’ vocal strength.
Grow is darker and evokes heartbreak. A sense of urgency is created by the acoustic guitar, percussion and strings playing cat-and-mouse, each part twisting and tumbling into one another. The jazzy bridge catches you by surprise and just before you start wrapping your head around it, the chorus makes a final appearance.
Ghost shifts the gear of the album yet again. Structurally and instrumentally, it’s a simple track. Despite this, the song gives the impression that we’re edging toward something yet we never quite make it there, reminiscent of unspoken conversations and relationships that could have been but never were.
Never Get Enough is undoubtedly the most intriguing track of the album. It manages to combine grunge and Latin fusion – and it pulls it off pretty well. The song has multiple personalities; offhand and blasé, to livid in a heartbeat.
A beautiful and equally as melancholy adieu, Good Goodbye closes the album strongly. It will leave you with a heavy heart; partly due to the stirring strings and piano but mostly because La Havas left it too short with only 10 tracks.
–Blood– is a wonderful tribute to the re-emergence of the neo-soul genre and truly showcases La Havas’ talents as a vocalist and artist. I look forward to seeing her perform the album live.