Lianne La Havas's Blood: What You Need To Know
With two singles already released so far this year, this Friday (July 31st) singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas returns with Blood, her second album and the follow-up to her 2012 debut Is Your Love Big Enough?
So what can we expect from Blood's 10 brand new tracks? Here's everything you need to know...
A little background...
Releasing her first EP Lost & Found in 2011, Lianne La Havas soon found herself thrust under the spotlight of the BBC's Sound of 2012 poll alongside the likes of Frank Ocean, Skrillex and Flux Pavilion. Her debut LP followed soon after, earning her a Mercury Prize nomination for her efforts, and in the three years that have passed since the London-born singer has appeared as a guest on albums by Alt-J, Rudimental and even Prince, who performed a gig in the singer's living room at the beginning of last year and invited her to sing on several of the tracks of his 2014 album Art Official Age.
After completing an extensive tour in support of her first album, La Havas took a long break in Jamaica with her mother and it was here that she began penning new material for her sophomore LP, finally releasing the album's lead-off single 'Unstoppable' – a co-write with Adele producer Paul Epworth – earlier this year.
Who's producing it?
Although Epworth has lent his songwriting skills to the album's opening track, the majority of the album is produced by Stephen 'DI Genius' McGregor and La Havas herself, with Aqualung's Matt Hales performing knob-twiddling duties on 'What You Don't Do' and 'Wonderful' and longtime Dr. Dre collaborator Mark Batson contributing production on 'Grow'.
Any special guests?
Aside from the aforementioned Matt Hales, the only other guests are Disclosure's Howard Lawrence, who appears on 'Wonderful', and Jamie Lidell, who performs on and co-produced 'Green and Gold'.
What does it sound like?
The familiar jazz vibes are all present and correct on the new record, but Blood takes La Havas in a more soulful direction and the new album has drawn comparisons to the likes of Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige and even Lauryn Hill. La Havas addresses her Greek-Jamaican roots in the lyrics to 'Green & Gold', while 'What You Don't Do' blends elements of jazz and doo-wop with a big gospel choir.
Overall the album has a much bigger, more rounded sound than the acoustic guitar-led arrangements of her debut. There's an expansion of musical styles too, with audible dancehall and reggae influences on 'Grow' - no doubt inspired by her Jamaican surroundings – but this isn't a 'throw everything and see what sticks' approach; La Havas has obviously taken her time experimenting with various styles and influences and carefully weaved them together with her own distinct vibe to create a much more progressive record than its predecessor.
Does it deliver?
When Lianne La Havas first emerged with her debut album three years ago it was obvious that this was an artist with talent to burn and bags of potential, and on Blood that potential is starting to be realised. It's familiar enough not to alienate those who fell in love with her first album, but it's definitely a leap forward in terms of songwriting and production; fans of her first record will love it and it will probably convert a few new fans too.