To discount the arrangement of pristine images that surround the background of singer Lianne La Havas on her latest album cover is an unsound analysis. To solely focus on the fore – the dazzling figure that is La Havas – but yet to suppress the greenery; the exotic glamour and the lush touch of pink, is only misinterpreting the overall effectiveness, and not to forget, the influence that plays on La Havas’ latest album. London-born to a Greek Mother and a Jamaican Father, the singer-songwriter arose into the limelight subsequently after touring as a backup singer, to then releasing her debut album Is Your Love Big Enough? in 2012. It was knowledgeably refreshing, however familiar the acoustic-folk-soul aura was. Amid a trip to Jamaica with her Mother, La Havas reconnected with her roots, inspiriting herself to begin work on a new album.
In an interview with London Evening Standard she acknowledged the trip as being “more emotional than she expected”, recalling “I immediately felt connected.” She later revisited the country and recorded the new material with producer Di Genius (Stephen McGregor), son of reggae artist Freddie McGregor. Figuratavely, the singer pours blood into the record, applying the connection she had with her Jamaican roots, and faithfully stamps it on the album title in a straight-forward and dignifying matter.
The regard for her genealogy is exemplified and critically relevant on the album’s output. “Green & Gold” recollects a six year old La Havas, who’s premature questions on life tie into the fully grown understanding she has nowadays. “Those eyes you gave to me/ that let me see where I come from,” alludes to the blood that thickened on her Jamaican journey. The arrangement is sweet and playful, much like any other track. A bulky bass slaps firmly on the drum beat in a friendly fellowship – a facet that attends a good majority of the album’s upbeat side – and an assemblage of neo-soul brass materializes in doses. The rhythm and grooves circulate lively and well, inspired by Jamaica’s blessing of the hybrid.
The optimistic beats are clung to the classy, piano-jabbing “What You Don’t Do”, detailing a pretty picture of love no matter how deceptive the partner is. She touches on a mending relationship in opening track “Unstoppable”, disclosing that it will only blossom in time; the ups and downs are really what pull the couple together. There are chimes that percolate, and strings that swoop miraculously, dreamlike in each arriving moment. It isn’t the purest version of the devotion for love that she sings about, but instead the likelihood and comfort that withstands in it all.
La Havas learns the absence of a loved one in the track “Tokyo”, perpetuating the words “out of sight/ out of mind/ alone in Tokyo”, and almost grieving at “all I’ve ever known is to be alone,” with one’s head high. Approaching the song’s end, she essentially howls in its climatic stage. Final track “Good Goodbye” is a send-off to an old friend or relation; an adieu to the memories had and remembered. It’s a ballad of some kind, and yet saying that would be fairly wrong. Sad and potent, Blood‘s one track that soars the highest in its orchestral moments and lyrics.
However suffering from consistency in Blood‘s second half, partially due to a loss in the grooves and playfulness, Lianne La Havas maintains a serious mentality in her voice and lyrics, accustoming to the trait she has in telling songs of imperfect relationships and rediscovered heritage. It’s almost the singer’s way of unearthing a better view on the world, and herself.
Lianne La Havas