Lianne La Havas moves between love and loss on her new self-produced, self-titled album | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Lianne La Havas moves between love and loss on her new self-produced, self-titled album 

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click to enlarge Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas

Courtesy the Artist

Born in London to a Jamaican mother and a Greek father, singer and guitarist Lianne La Havas takes inspiration from both branches of her family tree and beyond, finessing diverse influences into charming, sophisticated, and often heady alt-pop. She made her full-length debut with 2012’s acoustic guitar-driven Is Your Love Big Enough? and then slipped into something more electric on her 2015 follow-up, Green & Gold. Her new self-titled album is the first she’s produced on her own with her band, and its songs of love, loss, and personal growth continue her eclectic pop streak—it’s accessible yet hard to pin down. On a synth-soaked cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes,” watery keys break into an a cappella bridge, and the music builds into blissful alt-rock topped with La Havas’s hearty vocals. “Please Don’t Make Me Cry” channels 90s R&B with its slick, cinematic sound, moving between minimalist drums and sepia-toned acoustic guitar and waves of lushly layered vocal harmonies. On the breakup tale “Seven Times,” La Havas pairs danceable grooves with delicate, folky guitar and deceptively light-sounding lyrics about nonstop crying and praying. But by the record’s final track, “Sour Flour,” she’s overcome her heartbreak—its airy, complex instrumental rhythms and hand claps and her own little laugh signal that she’s moving into a new chapter of her life.   v

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