Album: Lianne La Havas, Is Your Love Big Enough? (Warner)
Never believe anything anyone tells you in January. The month of second-guessing and self-fulfilling prophecies, it's the period when the music industry and media send out suspiciously samey lists of Bright New Hopes for the year ahead, almost always as cautious as they are tedious. But just occasionally, like a broken clock, they get it right.
Among the also-rans in the BBC's Sound of 2012 poll – topped by the dishwater-dull Michael Kiwanuka – was Lianne La Havas, a 23-year-old singer from Streatham with a smoky voice and a neat line in jazz-soul.
Is Your Love Big Enough? – a title Spinal Tap would reject for being too innuendo-heavy – is a tasty piece of nu-soul whose musical inventiveness is, if not quite at Janelle Monáe levels, then at least up there alongside Beyoncé's kid sister, Solange Knowles.
La Havas's style, which recalls Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, Dory Previn and Joni Mitchell (you can see why Prince, an admirer of Joni and Janelle, is a Lianne fan), is intimate and confessional. Sometimes uncomfortably so.
Not a perfect debut, but one that leaves you with the feeling that we're dealing with a living, thinking artist here, not just another Brit School waxwork.
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