Review Summary: Cooler than an Eskimo's toenails.
The guitar. Quite a versatile instrument indeed, and also an instrument that all men want to conquer. If you have the fortune of owning a penis, it's a safe bet that you have donned the technique of "air guitar" quite a few times in your lifetime. Perhaps you have a guitar in the house, which you pick up when no-one else is around, blow the dust off your "Hotel California" LP and give yourself one hell of a miming show in the bedroom mirror, caught up in the dream of someday being the legend on the stage ripping out those fiery licks effortlessly. A tennis racket will also work well for this.
Women, as lovely as they are though, don't usually get associated with the guitar. Think of a typical top 10 best guitarist list. Hell, make it 20. Where are the women at? (Insert sexist comment here) Sure you have some notable women guitar players; Jennifer Batten being one pretty scrumptious player. And then you have the bog standard players; Chrissi Hynde, PJ Harvey, Avril Lavigne maybe. But do they have playing styles that blow you away?
Enter Lianne La Havas, and her debut LP; "Is your love big enough?." Looking at the cover for the first time, one would assume the 22 year old is quiet and shy from her timid smile and downwards gaze. "Don't wake me up" the albums opening track, defy's this statement quite triumphantly. The overdubbed accapella vocals used in the song are intricate, stylish and confident. Lianne has a very cool voice, often husky at times, but can also apply power behind it when she wants to go up a gear.
Lianne's songwriting skills are fantastic. For a debut album, her experimentation isn't taken too far, but there is a clever amount of differentiation between songs. "Au Cinema" is a spacey piece which main structure is around two chords that wouldn't normally be used in a typical pop song, but Lianne seems very capable with writing for different styles and makes the song flow very effectively. Another stand out track; "Age" showcases her jazzy guitar work and has a very bouncy, playful feel to it. Another guitar based song "Tease me" is a hard song to play and sing at same time. But for Lianne, Cool just oozes out of her fingers when she plays. Complexity is an aura for her, but subtleness stops her guitar work from being in your face.
This is a fantastic debut. Unfortunately tracks 8 to 10 are sub par when compared to the excellence of the other songs. But Lianne has created something very special here, and it looks like she can only get better. Watch this space.