Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Lianne La Havas - Is Your Love Big Enough?

Increasingly in the world of music, the trend is to fill everything out with as much instrumentation as possible and over produce it to the max, until it is so layered the bare bones of the song become hard to find. Artists seem scared of their own song writing ability, fearful that if they left everything simply their audience would see through them. Of course, this is not a unanimous trend and is hardly noticeable until an album created with just the right amount of simplicity comes along. ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’ is that album.

If you have seen Lianne La Havas live, you will understand what I mean. There is something humbling about watching this seemingly tiny woman on stage, with just a guitar and her voice, who can capture an entire audience. This ability to hold the attention of anyone is translated impeccably onto her debut album. Opening in electrifying, a-capella harmony with ‘Don’t Wake Me Up’, the track sets the calm, and occasionally melancholy, tone for most of the album. The story of La Havas’ debut sees her ‘doing an Adele’ and writing about a break up. But this is understated, not melodramatic. ‘Lost and Found’ is an obvious example, with Lianne La Havas’ soulful vocals easily transporting the listener as she sings ‘you taught me to truly hate myself’. Not exactly a bundle of laughs. But its tracks like this and ‘Gone’ which show off the extraordinary ability of La Havas, to write songs with so much emotion in. ‘Gone’ is full of evidence of the jazz influences on the album, carefully sliding into different keys while La Havas’ voice is so full of emotion, it is like three whole Adele albums in four and a half minutes.

It’s not all romantic despair though. Title track ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’ proves that Lianne doesn’t spend all her time crying over her ex and instead can write pretty awesome, albeit full of sexual innuendo, pop songs. There are sassy finger clicks and hand claps, TWO BRIDGES, and a chorus of epic proportions. ‘Au Cinéma’ and ‘No Room For Doubt’ keep everything chilled, with the latter being a duet with Willy Mason, both their voices blending and remaining distinct in a spine tingling manner.

I hope her ex has heard this album because this is one lady I would not want to mess with. Fans might be disappointed that a lot of the songs on ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’ are simply revamped demos, but there is still plenty to be excited about, whether it’s occasional new songs or simply how mature an artist La Havas sounds. Sometimes you don’t need gimmicks or oodles of production, sometimes it’s better to stand up and say ‘I am not scared of being judged for my song writing or my voice’. For Lianne La Havas, what may have been a gamble has certainly paid off.


Jessy Parker Humphreys

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