Lianne La Havas

Blood

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AllMusic Review by

After she completed extensive touring in support of Is Your Love Big Enough?, Lianne La Havas visited Jamaica with her native Jamaican mother and connected with distant relatives. Additionally inspired by her Greek roots through her father -- hence the album's title -- and possibly fortified by her experiences recording with Prince, Alt-J, and Tourist, Blood is no mere rehash of the Top Five U.K. debut that preceded it. Matt Hales, aka Aqualung, remains on board as a production and co-writing partner, but he contributes to fewer songs. Among the collaborators here are Stephen McGregor (son of Freddie McGregor), retro-soul specialist Jamie Lidell, Disclosure's Howard Lawrence, and pop heavy weights Mark Batson and Paul Epworth. La Havas goes for a bigger, bolder, more produced sound without glossing over her singer/songwriter/guitarist origin. The point is made in the opener, a storybook love song about being swept away that is carried on a rhythm firmer than anything heard on the debut. On "Tokyo," La Havas' yearning and state of disorientation is intensified by hazy effects and an appealingly chunky and slow groove that wouldn't be out of place on Jessie Ware's Devotion. "Midnight" and "Ghost" likewise wouldn't have the same resonance if merely sung and strummed, while "Never Get Enough" enters discretely but repeatedly veers into a dissonant stomp of lust and vexation. A few moments, like the wistful "Wonderful" and candid closer, are as hushed and restrained as the first album's highlights. The most vivid autobiographical song is "Green & Gold," a standout Lidell collaboration referencing La Havas' growth into an adult who is proud and understanding of her background and identity. This work leaves the debut, impressive as it was, in the dust.

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