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ALBUM OF THE MONTH: Lianne La Havas - Self-Titled

Please Don't Make Me Cry

Lianne La Havas - Lianna La Havas [2020 Warner]

Alongside Paolo Nutini and Beyoncé Knowles, I wholeheartedly consider Lianne La Havas to be one of the world's greatest living vocalists. Combining a soft vocal vulnerability with impeccable pitch, tone and teeth, London's La Havas has rightly collected widespread recognition for her distinctive blend of soul and R&B, but with her latest album the artist has assuredly demonstrated just how outstanding her abilities are, and always have been.

2020's Lianne La Havas is a delight. Behind the microphone, Ms. Havas' smile is relentlessly audible, swirling around neverending grooves and a fantastic expression of this artist's songwriting acumen. The singer's third LP hits a high point in every possible realm of written creativity, playing with expressive chord sequences and perfectly designed melodies; all wrapped up in impossible-tight drum grooves that give this entire album a contradictive air of both serenity and incredible precision.

It's hard not to lose yourself very quickly in the world of Lianne La Havas, utterly transfixed by the soft edges of 'Bittersweet', 'Read My Mind' and 'Green Papaya' (the chromaticism at the end of the choruses in 'Green Papaya' always makes me scream). 'Can't Fight' is, for me at least, the best song of the album, crossing wonderfully rhythmic guitar picking with the long echo of perfectly complimentary side-stick hits. The ridiculous vocal performance on 'Please Don't Make Me Cry' must not be ignored, however, and the latin funk-pulse of 'Seven Times' is just one more song to add to the list of 'unmissable' from the record.

I really, really enjoy the album's cover of Radiohead's 'Weird Fishes/Arpeggi', surprising listeners with a phenomenally satisfying beat switch, leading into a brilliant re-configuration of the tracks original groove. The cover is sparse and atmospheric, totally suiting the switch into a slower, laid back style, but I do have questions regarding the cover's place within this LP. I understand that the recording of La Havas' 'Weird Fishes' sparked a great deal of the album's creative process, but it does stand out as an odd moment within the tracklist that doesn't necessarily justify its place in the LP. It's unquestionably a really, really compelling cover of the song - immediately being one of the best Radiohead covers I have ever heard - but it did feel a little jarring surrounded by songs with as unified an emotional expression as the remainder of Lianne La Havas held together.

Regardless, you need to listen to this LP. It's astoundingly good music, written superbly and delivered by one of the world's very best singers. There isn't a bad song to find on Lianne La Havas, and while at times the album may feel as though it is perhaps relying too heavily on one particular sound without great experimentation, the combinations of grooves, vocal talent and intriguing lyricism contained within this album make it the best of July, and a deserving contender for one of Britain's best albums in 2020.


- 8.8 -



'Can't Fight', 'Please Don't Make Me Cry', 'Seven Times'


Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based in South Wales.

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