First Listen #21: Lianne La Havas’s ‘Lianne La Havas’

Not sure how Lianne’s music made it’s way into my life, but it was at least back when Blood (2015) was released. Although I can’t remember the “how,” I do remember listening to that album A LOT. She has such a beautiful and STRONG voice, and she created a really beautiful and STRONG project; it really is a joy to listen to her sing. “Unstoppable,” “Green & Gold,” and “Ghost” stayed on repeat for weeks. Unfortunately, Lianne dropped off my music radar for a long time, and initially I thought that was because I was missing out, but she just was taking a little hiatus. I didn’t rush to listen to the project, but I did acknowledge its existence and promised myself that I’d get to it at some point. However, at least twice a week for the past couple of weeks, someone in one of the hip hop subreddits that I frequent – annoyingly because it’s full of white men – posted a song or two from Lianne’s new project. I couldn’t understand why because I knew Lianne wasn’t out here rapping like that, but it did lead to me listening to the project sooner rather than later.

Photo Credit:

2020: Lianne La Havas

(via Genius)

And I have to say: I’m still VERY confused as to why songs from this project kept getting posted in the sub – because there are zero bars on Lianne La Havas (2020) – but I’m VERY happy that I listened to it. It’s absolutely incredible. It actually reminded me a lot of Blood, but it felt a little bit more intimate, which seems to have been purposeful. Lianne mentions, in her Spotify Storyline for the project, that during the five years between Blood and Lianne La Havas, “there was a lot of living, and a lot of dealing with change and loss and growing up,” and I think that’s a great summary of this project.

This river of doubt helped me swim my way out

Lianne La Havas, “Green Papaya”

From the title to Lianne’s (beautiful) face filling the visual space on the album’s cover, it’s clear that this is a project focusing on her and her journey. And she definitely does that; we get personal right from the start. She opens up the project with “Bittersweet”- a moment of recognizing the beauty – but slight discomfort – of finding yourself and starting over, after experiencing some setbacks. From there, we take a journey on the love boat with “Read My Mind” and “Green Papaya,” which I loved. And then the last half-ish of the project runs the spectrum of heartache, struggling to let go, rage, self-reflection, and patience. There’s a lot of digging into the idea of what it means to rediscover yourself. In an interview with Apple Music, she mentions that “Sour Flower,” a phrase that originated from her grandmother (love that!), was a chance for her to explore and put attention on “the self-love and the self-care [needed] to restore yourself after whatever monumental derailment.” And she puts that message into lyrics that express the need to “[run her] own show” and stop looking out for everyone “but [herself].” And we move from that back into (a shorter version of) “Bittersweet,” bringing us back into that idea of the difficult – but much-needed – work of finding yourself again. And it becomes a bit of a cycle. You find you, you go through things (and people) that cause you to lose sight of you, you cry about it, dust yourself off, and find yourself again. And I like the idea of her showing that as a process that can – and should – happen over and over again.

The production on this project was amazing. I especially loved the production (courtesy of Aqualung, Nick Hakim (LOVE), and Lianne, herself) on “Please Don’t Make Me Cry;” it was actually my favorite song on the project. The drums and bass on that song really just HIT DIFFERENT. I also really enjoyed “Courage.” I got some chills and almost started crying while listening to it, so I obviously need to revisit a couple more times.

Overall, Lianne La Havas is a wonderful project, and I’m so happy I had the opportunity to revisit Lianne and her music. Blood was a project I lived with for a really long time after my initial listen, and I’m sure I’ll be revisiting this project a lot in the coming weeks, too.Also, I just have to add that FKJ’s remix of “Unstoppable” is FIRE, and you should listen to it RIGHT NOW. I forgot about it until I re-listened to a couple of songs from Blood – after finishing LLH – and it’s still so good so many years later.

Overall Project Rating

Featured Image Credit:

(listen to Lianne La Havas on spotify by clicking the image below)

here’s something else you might like:

Top 5 from the Week #12 (ft. Guapdad 4000, Lil Uzi Vert, Deante’ Hitchcock, Lupe Fiasco, and Michael Jackson)

In addition to making some aesthetic changes to thursday email – still a work in progress, but I’m happy so far – I have done a lot of music listening this week. A lot of what I was listening to was stuff from last week – you can find that Top 5 here – but … Continue reading Top 5 from the Week #12 (ft. Guapdad 4000, Lil Uzi Vert, Deante’ Hitchcock, Lupe Fiasco, and Michael Jackson)

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