During late 2011 and early 2012, Lianne La Havas released a studio EP and a live EP, performed on Later…with Jools Holland, toured with Bon Iver, and was nominated for BBC's Sound of 2012 poll, which was won by fellow hybridist Michael Kiwanuka. Like Bon Iver and Kiwanuka, this native of London, England could be termed folk, but there are streaks of jazz and soul -- with adult alternative pop/rock as the pigeonhole -- in her debut album, produced by Matt Hales (aka Aqualung). Her material would fit on playlists that include not just the above-mentioned artists, but José James, Jessie Ware, Norah Jones, and Corinne Bailey Rae, as well as Scott Matthews, whose "Elusive" is covered here. Save for the wailing gospel flavor of "Is Your Love Big Enough?," the deceptive rollick of "Forget" (co-produced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek), and the demon-releasing piano balladry of "Gone," the album maintains a level of sonic intensity that is as suited for the background as it is the foreground. The lyrics, however, sting as frequently as they soothe. Take "Waste all your time writing love songs, but you don't love me," "You broke me and taught me to hate myself," and "We all make mistakes, we do; I learned from you." Some of the songs are restrained and bare to the point of being plain and easy to disregard, but they succeed in accentuating La Havas' thoughtful and often sharp words. It's an impressive start to a career that will hopefully last a long time.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman