“Is Your Love Big Enough?” asks 22-year-old singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas with her debut album. Last year one critic went so far as to call her “the most striking female voice to emerge from Britain since Adele,” and her debut does not disappoint.
Released last month in the UK on Warner Brothers Records, Is Your Love Big Enough? was well received, reaching number four on the charts overall. Yesterday marked the official stateside release of the album, which has already scored strong reviews from news sources.
“The first thing that grabbed me about the 22-year-old British singer was a curious moment halfway through a song called “Lost & Found” on her debut record,” said NPR’s Tom Moon. “The music is moving at a stately, confessional pace. She’s sharing a lot, maybe too much, about being hurt by a lover. But then the tempo falls away, and she begins a lovely vocal improvisation. The interlude lasts only about 10 seconds, but that’s all the time La Havas needs to establish her identity — to make it clear that she’s not another cookie-cutter diva singing whatever is put in front of her.”
Born to a Greek father and Jamaican mother in London, La Havas credited her musical influences to her parents’ diverse musical tastes and talents. Her mother was a fan of American soul artists such as Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige, while her father, a practiced musician, taught her the basics of both piano and guitar. Las Havas was celebrated in BBC’s Sound of 2012 poll alongside artists such as Frank Ocean and Azealia Banks, and was also chosen as one of MTV’s Hot Tips for 2012.
La Havas’ unique sound is not completely new to the states, as she joined Bon Iver during their North American tour last December. Justin Vernon, the band’s frontman, sung her praises to Esquire UK. “As soon as we saw her play it was so refreshing; somebody who could play their instrument, somebody who could use their voice, but in their own way. She is just fantastic.”
Unique style is a quality that has become more and more valuable in the American pop and R&B landscape, as pre-written songs and dances no longer impress mature audiences. Having already been acknowledged as one of music rising stars internationally, it won’t be long until Americans catch on to this singer’s indisputable talent.