Lianne La Havas possesses a wonderful voice; soulful, delicate and adaptive when necessary, her performances across Blood will no doubt infatuate many listeners.
However, as accomplished as the record is in its cohesiveness, I sense that La Havas has yet to fully match her songwriting skills with the value and sheer beauty of her vocals. The middle portion of the album is dynamic, with the soft beauty of “Wonderful” preceding a vibrant highlight in “Midnight,” but other moments either side of this often drift by without leaving substantial impact. This is not to say attention hasn’t been paid to the arrangement of the album, because Blood ebbs and flows with care and delicacy, but with a voice as beautiful as La Havas’, you wouldn’t begrudge anyone for wanting a little more.
All things considered it’s a thoroughly pleasant listen, and I’m hoping to see the potential of Lianne La Havas grow further from here.
7 out of 10
Blood is undeniably a smooth listen, but beneath its silky surface I don’t think there’s a great deal to care for. For all the merits of Lianne La Havas’s thoroughly lovely and dynamic voice, the album ultimately comes across as lopsided and a little flat.
The instrumentals are jarringly sterile throughout, and that lets her vocals down. There’s a distinct and enduring sense that a song hasn’t started until La Havas starts singing; the accompanying instruments sound like extras hired to wander around while she stands centre-stage and delivers soliloquies. That’s a formula that can work, but in Blood it winds up leaving a lot to be desired. La Havas in not yet a strong enough songwriter to get away with that kind of neglect. The sound is incomplete.
The album is at its best when the music serves as something other than a casual backing, and even then it doesn’t do it very well. This isn’t to say Blood isn’t a pleasant listen — it is — but it could have been so much more. I would love to hear this kind of material with a livilier sound, but for the time being I’ll have to settle for being a bit disappointed.
6 out of 10
With the success of Lianne La Havas’ debut album, Blood had a lot to live up to. With a discernible change in instrumentation and post-production, it is clear that the album had intentions of being bigger and bolder, with a full band accompanying La Havas throughout the album where previously vocals and guitar were much more common. While the vocals remain strong and dynamic in Blood, the added instrumentation often feels a little surplus to requirements, lacking in dynamic range in places.
Whether this was La Havas’ choice to have a larger sound or the result of becoming a well known artist, I found it only worked in a minority of tracks, and my preference was found in the tracks that focussed on the vocals and skeleton instrumentation. Nevertheless, Blood is an enjoyable listen and will no doubt be given further listens, at least in part, in the future.
6 out of 10