There’s only one cover on British soul singer Lianne La Havas’ upcoming fourth album, but it kickstarted the entire recording process.
On her self-titled album, the singer, whose blend of breathy coos and emotive belts makes her equally at home in a jazz club or rock venue, takes on Radiohead’s 2007 song “Weird Fishes” from In Rainbows. La Havas cuts the original, skittering song’s tempo in half, replacing its jittery energy with a soulful, stripped-down, keys-heavy vibe that makes her one of the best modern soul singers. The Soulquarian opening vibe gives way to an capella section that finds La Havas layering her voice with gorgeous restraint, while the back half’s guitars nod to the original version before backdropping La Havas’ increasingly impassioned cries of “Hit the bottom and escape.”
La Havas has been covering the song live since her 2012 debut, but only recorded a studio version with her band last year following her 2019 performance at Glastonbury. After recording the track, she made a decision that would guide her new work. “The rest of the album needs to be like this: It’s got to be my band, and I’ve got to do it in London, whenever people have time,” she said in a statement. “Thom Yorke’s lyrics suggest finding a way out, and he’s used the imagery of the bottom of the sea and the unusual creatures that you might find there. For me, the deep means the unknown, when you get out of something so familiar. It can be scary, but he also says, ‘I hit the bottom and escape.'”
“I’d always wanted to play live in the studio like in the Seventies,” she added. “This is my direction, this is my album, this is my story.”
La Havas’ new album is set for release on July 17th via Nonesuch. Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.