Lianne La Havas – Blood
Increased confidence in bigger and bolder tracks, with just a hint of Prince's influence in the mix
The wake of 2012’s Is Your Love Big Enough saw Lianne La Havas hobnobbing with literal pop royalty. Her husky, sensual brand of soul caught the ears of Prince, leading to collaboration on ‘Clouds’ and a supposed private gig in the English songstress’ London flat. For many, this friendship made La Havas’ second full-length an intriguing prospect. Would the Dark Prince himself make an appearance or not? Well, somewhat unsurprising given the elusive nature of The Purple One, the answer is a negative. Instead La Havas has created what is largely expected of a second album – more of the same, with enough bigger and bolder tracks to indicate some sort of development from her 2012 debut.
This predictable increase in confidence manifests in an increase in instrumentation. Opening track and album highlight ‘Unstoppable’ shimmers and gleams with a synth sheen that we haven’t seen La Havas experiment with before. It works too, fleshing out an often-intimate voice into something truly expansive. ‘What You Don’t Do’ is this confidence taken a little too far. With a backing choir and drum beat that a new-born baby could play, the track is seemingly one of her major label’s key weapons in getting her into the Top 10. While that is by no means a bad thing, it feels processed and over-polished, like the writer’s true intentions for the song have been repressed.
While Prince may not appear in person on Blood, his influence is often there hiding in the quieter recesses of the mix. Enticing snippets of funky bass can just be caught on ‘Tokyo’, while the guitar groove in the shadows of ‘Midnight’ has a distinct purple tinge to it. These add to an 80s aesthetic which is understated enough as not to be pastiche, but noticeable enough to show a definite stylistic approach. While not enough to make the LP exciting, it helps make it the predictable success that was expected of it.