ALBUM REVIEW: Lianne La Havas – S/T | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed



Warner Records

Released: 17.07.20





Image by Hollie Fernando

Lianne La Havas beautiful debut, Is My Love Big Enough?, was an introspective showcase of a bright talent. A stunningly sweet release, laced with purity, it was evidence that La Havas was special. Subsequent releases saw the artist draw from love and heartbreak to produce soulful pop laments.

With her newest release La Havas provides a sense of solace, stripping away the grandeur and finesse of previous releases, she centres herself perfectly in the heart of a sound that is unquestionably hers. Where previous releases play as an artist thrusting her paints against the canvas, launching vibrant colours against artfully honed technique, her self-titled release is a phenomenally focused expulsion of musical ideas. The album is rife with everything La Havas has lavishly carved into image, as thoughtful ruminations explode from her mesmerizing voice that flutters between vulnerability and strength.

As a whole, it’s a demonstration of unwavering emotion, yet sharpened by control and restraint, and these contrasts and crescendos echo throughout the album. Opener Bittersweet moves from gentle groove via lazy, lucid drum patterns to a frenzied pinnacle.

The release plays as a transcendental listen, with each rise and fall feeling natural and organic. La Havas’ knack for capturing humanity through the ebb and flow of her music is never more clearly sighted than on her cover of Radiohead’s Weird Fishes. The track cowers with restraint, until the pieces gradually accumulate in a surreal swirl of sound which completely surrounds the listener.

The album’s finale, Sour Flower, perfectly encompasses everything the album embodies, as humble, magnetic grooves erupt into cathartic explosions.

Where this album differs from previous endeavours is in La Havas’ newfound comfort in simplicity; consistently refuting any veneer or polish that doesn’t immediately serve her matured, nuanced vision. As captivating levels of emotion flood from the songs, there is a refined sense of shading and delicacy throughout the compositions that are elegant and intricate in equal measure.

La Havas’ newest output is easily her strongest, most intimate and most genuine release to date. Authentic, profound and bewitching, and one which irrefutably marks Lianne La Havas as one of the finest songbirds of our generation.


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