“I found myself in a secondhand guitar,” sings London chanteuse Lianne La Havas on the title track of her debut album. That’s not idle talk. La Havas, just 22, is a natural who uses her six-string acoustic and her husky R&B croon to create songs that fall winningly between categories: part Bill Withers-esque neo-soul, part Bon Iver-style indie folk, with punchier beats than you’d expect and welcome detours into Sade‘s plush bedroom. There are surprises: jazz chords that seep into wintry folk ballads; come-ons that double as threats. The lyrics dwell on troubled romance, but the cool, pretty, expertly arranged music washes over you like a healing wave.
Listen to ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’: