Lianne La Havas radiates excellence

Jonathan Hatchett, Staff Writer

“Lianne La Havas”, a new album released by the artist of the same name is an 10- song tapestry woven from experience, time and patience. It bears the story of a young woman’s journey through love and loss.

Released on July 17, 2020, it is a self- titled weaving of steady growth both personal and reactionary. In the neo-soul and indie-folk singer’s recent life, change has become a constant.

This is her opus crafted in-between her experiences. In the five years from the release of her last studio album, she has claimed that her newest is the truest to her, thus the decision for the eponymous title.

The songs are pretty straightforward — “Please Don’t Make Me Cry” being a song about not being made to cry and so on — though listening from start to finish is the intended sonic order.

La Havas made the album in a time of change, and the music does along with her. Her first song “Bittersweet” is unironically about new beginnings. It is featured twice, once in full length at the start and again at its close as the last song of the album. To place a song with this meaning at both the start and the finish of the album is to say the journey never ends.

“Read My Mind” is a study in flirtation while in a relationship, and an echo of a memory from relationships past. It is one that is hard to sit still during, as if it calls for one to dance with their partner for the duration. “Green Papaya”, whose sound is inspired by such legends as Jaco Pastorius and Joni Mitchell, is written like a love letter to one’s partner. Notably one that is sealed and read in private. In “Can’t Fight”, La Havas wrestles with an already doomed opportunity, but the inevitable choice of taking the chance anyway.

After “Paper Thin”, a song about self-reflection and vulnerability, a wispy interlude ensues. The only song not entirely original that is featured on the album is a Radiohead cover of “Weird Fishes” from their 2007 album “In Rainbows”. It is included because of its prominence on La Havas’ set list over the years as well as in her heart.

Next is the aforementioned “Please Don’t Make Me Cry”. Its dreary baseline, woeful guitar strums and repetitive drum beat is enough for one to know that this is a song about heartbreak … let alone the title. It is about life’s tear-inducers and one’s realization that things that make one cry may not be best for oneself. “Seven Times” is a steady, confident ode to independence and self-assurance and “Courage” plays right after it. They oppose each other.

“Seven Times” an homage to the bossa nova and Samba of old enrobed in an air of being fed-up with being mistreated. “Courage” is the breath taken after the release from said relationship. It was needed to leave and to move on. “Sour Flower” is a phrase that a family member of La Havas’ mentions in comparison to something needent of fixing in oneself. It is the most free-flowing and exuberant song on the album, a ray of light peeking from the clouds after the turbulent storm the past was for her. She plays herself out, letting the song leak over, almost hitting the seven-minute mark. Her story has been told, her nebulous strands made sense of, sorted and knitted together. Her tapestry is finished.

After this, “Bittersweet” plays once more, a testament to the constant uncertainty in new things in one’s life In her own words and by her own volition, La Havas created a fluidly lissajous memory shuttlecocked along 10 tonally colorful songs.