Something about Soul music just feels so natural. While Pop is upbeat and fun, Metal is gnarly and aggressive and Hip-Hop is charged and often cultural, Soul just feels like the essence of humanity. It truly comes from the heart and the rhythm of it tends to be pretty infectious, if you've done it right.
For her self-titled third album, Lianne La Havas really wanted to get it right. The British singer-songwriter was not happy with her 2015 sophomore effort Blood, feeling that it didn't represent her life and emotions at the time. What followed was a break from writing and recording music in order to, essentially, find herself again. This included a new relationship, which unfortunately ended, and, as quoted in the Spotify storyline of album opener 'Bittersweet', "a lot of living, dealing with change and loss and growing up". These experiences all gave her a new platform of ideas from which to write.
Whatever the case, the break worked. This album, while not a rollercoaster, is full of emotion, and fittingly, it feels like a musical representation of where her personal soul is at right now - exactly what she felt was missing from her previous effort. 'Bittersweet', for example, is a beautiful effort which ebbs and flows, with La Havas putting in one of the most powerful performances of the record. 'Read My Mind' then follows suit excellently, and 'Green Papaya', though light on instrumentation, really makes you think with its close and intimate lyrics.
In fact, the real strength of this record isn't in individual songs, but rather its consistency as a whole. There isn't a weak track on here; they all have their place and they all make a significant contribution to what the album is - a journey. Her journey. She spent five years soul-searching and every track on here, with the possible exception of 'Weird Fishes' due to it being a Radiohead cover, represents a part of that journey.
With that in mind, it's not really fair to pick out highlights or weak points. This isn't an album like most, which are collections of different songs, some clearly made to stand out and some made as filler with no rhyme or reason behind them. Lianne La Havas is a meticulously crafted piece of art, made with love, passion and heart. The term 'Soul music' is so relevant here, and it feels more accurate than most genre labels.
Sometimes artists need a break to rediscover themselves. Indeed, after Feeder's rather lacklustre effort Generation Freakshow came out in 2012, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Grant Nicholas took a break to spend some time with his family and do some acoustic solo work. Feeder then returned in 2016 with All Bright Electric, which was easily their best work since their 2008 album Silent Cry.
Lianne La Havas did the same thing. Following a record that she herself didn't like, she took some time out to find herself again. This third record is the result of that journey, and in many ways, IS that journey - or at least, its chronicles. It's a fabulous effort, a true Soul record, and La Havas can certainly be proud of this one.
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