TitleIs Your Love Big Enough?
ArtistLianne La Havas
They don’t make pop stars like Adele any more. Actually, Adele was not made – she more or less just happened. But here comes a singer who some are calling the next Adele. Do we need one? Record labels say yes.
Step up, Lianne La Havas, a London-based “soul sensation,” according to the excitable British music press, who do their part in the sensationalizing business. La Havas, a 22-year-old of Greek and Jamaican descent, is an intoxicating breeze of a singer – believe it. But the next Adele? There will be no such thing.
La Havas, I don’t think, has a breakout single on this, her debut long-player. Gone is the track that invites comparisons to the world’s best record seller. It’s an emotive piano ballad, about a couple that “had it all.” You don’t need to be Whitney Houston or the rolling-in-the-deep Adele to know that having it all is something relationship-singers croon about best. The song’s title, as mentioned, is Gone. And so you know what happened.
If there is no standout, the dozen tracks are unanimously marvellous. La Havas kills us softly with her words, strumming her pain with a gentle guitar. Her voice is supple and breathy – carved steam. I can’t imagine ever tiring of this instrument of hers.
Indeed, you can play Everything Everything many more times than twice, and never wear it out. Wait, did I say there were no standout cuts? Wrong. “We should learn to breathe again,” she suggests, sublimely, “before we suffocate.” La Havas is no over-singer: she glides over the marching snare; she hovers above an arpeggio.
Au Cinema bounces softly and deftly, in a jazz-soul sort of way.
Lost & Found is about faith. And, again, the song’s title gives away the resolution. This is an elegant softie, with La Havas adopting a duskier tone. “Unfold me and teach me, how to be like somebody else,” is her spiritual request. (That somebody else might be Meshell Ndegeocello.)
The title track is by far the most exuberant. The riff is pure Ray Charles vamp. More of this please.
Arrangements are stylish throughout and there’s not a hair out of place on this auspicious premiere. Warner Records has a star on its hands. But, these days, what does that mean? Probably Erykah Badu-level fame. Maybe Lauryn Hill. Labels have fewer resources and less clout to find and produce world-beaters these days. The lightning is still out there, but the bottles are getting smaller.
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