The UK stands out in recent years for consistently producing stand out female singers. From Joss Stone and Amy Winehouse to Jessie J and Adele, it’s become apparent that there must be a factory in the industrial regions of London where they are assembling and producing these fierce females. I am convinced of this. Continuing this trend is the latest “it” girl of the UK music world: Lianne La Havas.
With the release of her debut LP, Is Your Love Big Enough?, La Havas proves that she has something uniquely her own to bring to the table. Where Winehouse was gritty and wore her heart on her sleeve, and Adele is powerful and wears her heart on her sleeve, La Havas is delicate, sweet and, yes — you guessed it — wearing her heart on her sleeve. But what makes La Havas successful on this record is that she shows us her quirky, dynamic, inquisitive personality throughout it. She’s much less the tortured soul than the two who came before her were and wore proudly as a badge of honor.
The album opens with “Don’t Wake Me Up,” where La Havas ponders on and owns her mistakes, while being fearlessly open about the consequences of them; “will I know/why I lost control/of my heart and soul?” she asks. The track sets the scene for the rest of the LP, which sees La Havas discussing, questioning and just a little unsure of love, life and the complexities that inevitably follow falling in the former and experiencing the latter. The joy of La Havas’ curiosity and honesty is that she pens songs that, whether poppy and strong (like title track “Is Your Love Big Enough?” and “Forget”), stripped back and painfully raw (“Lost & Found”) or just a bit cheeky (“Age”), all share the common trait of being abnormally catchy, while still remaining real.
La Havas’ vocals are matched by the production of co-writer Matt Hales, and complimented by the dulcet tones of the ever present guitar, allowing her delicate and sweet vocals to shine and drift effortlessly from being as soft as a marshmallow to strong and dirty. She manages to draw you in with her tone, whether she’s in her higher register, which is so stunningly beautiful and so easy to listen to, or roaring when she needs to be tougher.
While Is You Love Big Enough? is perfect for that reflective, lazy Sunday afternoon at home, the flaw with it has an album is that it can be a little too polite, staying in safe territory, and you kind of begin to wish that La Havas would go out on that limb a little more and push the boundaries, explore, experiment and show us not only how big her love is, but all the different facets of it.