Words: Paul Page
Right now, Lianne La Havas is hot property. Since appearing on the Jools Holland TV show in October 2011, La Havas has been an ever growing snowball of hype rolling down a very steep hill. There was already a palpable buzz around this talented multi-instrumentalist once she was identified as one to watch in the BBC Sound of 2012 poll at the start of the year. Her graduation to the big leagues was cemented when she came through with flying colours on the certifiable proving ground that is the Jools Holland show - a show that has proved a more than useful springboard for the likes of Amy Winehouse, Adele, Kate Nash and Lana Del Rey.
Since then, she has toured with Bon Iver and been courted by a host of music business big hitters, eager to jump the bandwagon before it leaves town. With the endorsement of Justin Vernon, Prince and Stevie Wonder behind ringing in her ears, her debut album Is Your Love Big Enough? lands this month, and the word is that Ms La Havas is going to break, and break big.
It is plain to see why she is creating such a stir - La Havas is an obviously talented singer-songwriter with quite a voice, and this is a remarkable sure-footed debut for one so young. At her best, on the assured and seductively melodic 'Elusive', she sounds ready to meet and exceed the expectations that undoubtedly await her - over the course of twelve pleasantly soulful, jazz tinged numbers, her undoubted talent shines through. At times though, it can sound uncomfortably like dinner party music - the kind of album that people who don't buy many albums will purchase just because of the hype that surrounds it.
Songs like 'Tease Me' and 'Au Cinema' are grindingly bland and flavourless - a short hop to the dreaded coffee table album status.
Is Your Love Big Enough? will undoubtedly find an audience for one of the brightest new talents in pop music. As debut albums go, this is a more than adequate calling card, a confident and sophisticated start - one wonders how much better it could have been with a little more edge and a lot less playing it safe.