Lianne La Havas: A gust of fresh air in a lifeless music scene

My faith in modern popular music was obliterated by the dubstep, techno, and dance genres of this generation.

Until about a year ago, my musical taste buds had been sorely deprived of any exciting new flavours. My necessary reliance on those musical institutions which shaped my appetite for indie, rock ‘n’ roll, and folk had left me jaded, disillusioned, in need of something new. I don’t think I had been truly shaken by a musician of any sort since the emergence of the Strokes and the Arctic Monkeys in the height of the post-punk revival.

Gladly, this was all to change upon a chance viewing of Later… with Jools Holland last October. A 23 year-old solo singer and guitar picker from London was to whet my dormant palette and restore my hope for the music of today. Just a young woman with an electric guitar and a voice that conjures goosebumps was all it took, and not a single aspect of her music was manufactured on an expensive bit of kit.

In a music scene overflowing with countless DJs, the jazz-soul sound of Lianne La Havas is a welcome gust of fresh air. The chart toppers of the past few years lack any vibrancy or colour, instead falling uniformly into number one, each one indistinguishable from last week’s or the week before. Thankfully, the Londoner’s debut album, Is Your Love Big Enough?, released in July, is in ample supply of that long-lost unique. Her diversity of styles and influences are amplified in every track.

La Havas, of mixed Greek and Jamaican extraction, constitutes a well-measured mediator between the niche genre of jazz and the popular music scene. Much more notable is how she translates the true music of years ago into today’s often plastic market. Guided by the work of Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige, she sings from the heart and with constant passion on her record, from the fast-paced ‘Forget’ to the more somber ‘Lost and Found’.

The young performer’s popularity is unquestionably growing, with a recent performance on the Late Show with David Letterman in the US, as well as her album being short listed for the 2012 Mercury Prize. A shot in the States and a nomination for a prestigious music award are telltale indications of a promising future for any up-and-coming artist.

A handful of gigs in her album tour had to be postponed due to a ‘serious illness’, according to her official site, including a show in the Olympia scheduled initially for October 15th, now moved to March 5th, 2013. Tickets are still available for what will be an unmissable evening.

So, years from now, when I hear a vintage David Guetta or Nicki Minaj hit on one of those ‘Golden Oldies’ shows on the radio, I’ll at least take solace in the fact that the music of my generation wasn’t all bad as I switch to a different station…

Will Fleming

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