Filed Under:

Lianne La Havas: A Cool Antidote For Late Summer's Heat

Play associated audio

It's gotten to that point in the dog days of August where the air is stale and nothing seems to be moving. But sometimes all it takes to snap me out of a late-summer heat coma is the sound of a new and electrifying voice — like that of Lianne La Havas.

The first thing that grabbed me about the 22-year-old British singer was a curious moment halfway through a song called "Lost & Found" on her debut record, Is Your Love Big Enough? The music is moving at a stately, confessional pace. She's sharing a lot, maybe too much, about being hurt by a lover. But then the tempo falls away, and she begins a lovely vocal improvisation.

The interlude lasts only about 10 seconds, but that's all the time La Havas needs to establish her identity — to make it clear that she's not another cookie-cutter diva singing whatever is put in front of her.

Lots of her songs have clever twists in them. The very next tune on the album, "Au Cinema," transforms an overused idea — self-conscious lovers as actors in a movie — into something wondrous and fresh.

There are lots of different moods on Is Your Love Big Enough? Just when you're appreciating the sly, low-key, Nina Simone aspects of her work, La Havas turns around and belts like a TV talent-show contestant — except that her material is more substantial, her melodies more arresting.

Lately, more than a few female artists have been exploring this general terrain: setting sharply observed, introspective lyrics to music that has elements of pop and R&B. For me, what sets La Havas apart is the severe moodiness of her tracks. The album has perhaps too many songs about heartbreak, but each resonates differently — and in the best ones, she sounds almost shattered. Just watch out when she rebounds, because when she wants to, this woman can be positively fierce.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Neither Snow Nor Rain' Celebrates History Of U.S. Postal Service

NPR's Robert Siegel talks with author Devin Leonard whose new book, Neither Snow Nor Rain, celebrates the history of the U.S. Postal Service.
NPR

'Tiny Kitchen' Videos Cook Up Real Food In Doll-Sized Portions

They've fried hard shell tacos, made a gooey pot of queso, even whipped up a batch of rainbow sprinkle-covered doughnuts. All in a dollhouse kitchen roughly 1/12 the normal size.
NPR

British Labour Party Accused Of Harboring Anti-Semites

NPR's Robert Siegel interviews Jonathan Freedland, columnist for The Guardian, about the problems within the British Labour Party and the political left over anti-Semitism.
WAMU 88.5

Local D.C. STEM Careers Are Soaring — But For Whom?

Kojo explores the local state of diversity in STEM fields, with educators who are looking to change it and a journalist who has been tracking it.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.