Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

Welcome To B&S



Lianne La Havas: This Years Must Havas

Lianne La Havas
Lianne La Havas Lianne La Havas Lianne La Havas (Photo: Simon Redley)

Some say Lianne La Havas is the next Erykah Badou. A more soulful version of Amy Winehouse perhaps. I don’t agree. She ain’t the next anybody……………. She is the first Lianne La Havas. A sensation, and she’s one of ours. A Brit’.

Completely blew me away when I caught her on Jools’ TV show a few weeks ago. One song, “Age.” Just her and a 1962 Danelectro electric guitar. Mesmerising. Tracked her down, got sent her EP “Lost And Found." Five tracks of stripped down, scrummy, yummy, sweet, soulful, musical nectar. Beautiful stuff.

But live. Boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Stunning. Spine-tingling. Somethin’ else. No one like her. Silky, soul vocals from heaven. That tone! Her runs are Aretha and Mahalia territory. Nothing ever over-sung. So laid back. Classy, jazz tinged licks on guitar, with a unique and under-stated style all her own. The songs are to die for. Fresh. Exciting. Get inside your head, your heart and your soul from a just a few bars in. One new one, “O Cinema” is a killer. She has an almost innocent, excited child-like, soft and warm rapport with her audience. An aura around her that screams out, “trainee superstar.”

A sold out, sweaty, hot and humid venue in Nottingham as part of her first tour (all dates sold out fast), crammed to the rafters with an excited and respectful audience, widely ranging in age, such is Lianne’s appeal. They absolutely adored her after one song. No chance of any cat swinging activity here. The intimate, up close and personal nature of it all, was like being in someone’s front room. Lianne, the talented house guest, picking up a guitar and thrilling all her friends. Chilled, low key. So natural, as though she does this in her sleep. She probably does. Effortless. You just know gigs at this level and sharing her with just 150 people, are not going to come around ever again, as she takes off to the stars. We were all soaking it all up, and felt very lucky. Her month long residency at The Social in London in January, sold out in four hours.

Her feet have not touched the ground, since that beguiling national BBC TV appearance on 21st October. Everyone seems to want a slice of her. Including me. After a wobbly moment and a few tears, amid fears about her voice following recent throat issues, I get to sit with 22-year-old Lianne in the dressing room for a chat before her show. She is a lovely young woman. Intelligent. Switched on. Quiet, articulate, and seemingly quite an emotional girl. I also detected, from being around her for about six hours, a slight vulnerability. But no ego.

But above all else, her talent as a songwriter and as a singer shines out like a lighthouse in a pea-souper. The songs she sang in soundcheck, just piano and drums as accompaniment, and Connie for company (her guitar,) gave a whopping big clue as to what was in store. Perfect. Lump in the throat time. Shivers down the spine. Bar staff, crew, everyone transfixed by this wonderful voice. That was just the damn soundcheck!

So why the mini meltdown, Lianne? We all love you. You are destined to be not just a star, but a whole bloody solar system love. So what’s wrong? “I just want to be able to live up to what is expected of me. I want to make sure I am staying in the best possible shape to deal with the workload. My voice has changed since I gave up smoking, and to me went a bit weird. The specialist says it is fine, and just needs time to settle down. I am doing a lot of singing, more lately than I have ever done, on my first tour. Since Jools’ four weeks ago, it has been really mad. With all the travelling too, I am just tired and a bit overwhelmed I guess.”

“I am very aware that I am going to be, well I hope I am going to be, doing this for as long as possible, and want to look after myself as best as I can. I think it is a lot to do with the way I am thinking about things. My body is also getting used to not smoking any more.”

Lianne‘s “proudest moment,” was being on Jools’ show. She auditioned with a private performance in a London recording studio, for the producers. They called her manager just half an hour after, and said yes please. Lianne’s reaction? “I cried, overwhelmed with joy. On the day, I was terrified. All this excitement coupled with nerves, not wanting to make a mistake was my main thing.”

She says her state of mind at this epoch of her fledgling career, is “98% excitement, but 2% nerves,” but she has this consistent little voice in her head; “what if for some reason, I can’t perform one night. There’s just always that niggling thing.”


Lianne La Havas superb EP "Lost And Found" is out now… Her highly anticipated debut album is released in the spring, both are on Warners.


From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

Join the B&S Mailing List

Blues and Soul on Twitter