Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas

“Lianne La Havas”

LABEL: Nonesuch

RELEASED: July 17, 2020

This is London guitarist and songwriter Lianne La Havas’ third album _ and first since 2015 _ but it’s her first that’s self-titled.

She’s already done a fine job making a name for herself in the soul-folk-pop realm, so much so on the strength of her 2012 “Is Your Love Big Enough?” debut that Prince became a fan and collaborator, paying a visit to her London home in 2014. (She made tea.)

But it makes sense that “Lianne La Havas” is eponymous because it’s the 30-year-old singer’s most confident album, and the first that she asserted complete control over, using her own road band.

As confessional songwriters go, La Havas has always been nonlinear, with a circular style that draws the listener in with a taste for syncopation that hints at Joni Mitchell, and Brazilian tropicalia as well as old-school rhythm and blues.

Here, she crafts a song cycle about heartache, with a narrative arc that begins with fresh possibilities and blossoms with joy before initial infatuation fades and frustration and disappointment settles in. The promise of “Read My Mind” leads to the empathy of “Paper Thin,” but eventually give ways to the plea of “Please Don’t Make Me Cry.”

The story doubles back on itself, with the song cycle beginning and ending with two versions of a song which could have served as an album title: “Bittersweet.” That word aptly describes La Havas’ music, which sounds effortless as it soothes like a summer breeze, while simultaneously making its not-so-sunny emotional impact felt.

— Dan DeLucam, Philadelphia Inquirer

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