Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Lianne La Havas at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Lianne Barnes, known professionally as Lianne La Havas, was born in London, England, to a Greek father and Jamaican mother; she adapted her stage name from her father Henry Vlahavas' surname. She was raised in Tooting and Streatham, spending the majority of her time with her grandparents after her parents separated. La Havas began singing at age seven, wrote her first song at age 11, and thanks to her multi-instrumentalist father learned to play piano and guitar at age 18. La Havas began her professional career by singing back-up vocals for Paloma Faith, then joined a short-lived duo called the Paris Parade, collaborating with future Elephant member Christian Pinchebeck. La Havas' second and most recent album, Blood, inspired by La Havas' reconnection to her Greek and Jamaican heritage, was released on July 31, 2015.

La Havas brought class and style to Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom tonight, minimizing flash and staging for a simple, honest performance of voice and songs. Playing a hollow-bodied electric guitar for most of the show, she maintained a sturdy singer-songwriter approach to her songs, but with a soaring, soulful voice that transcended the genre. Her one cover song, "I Say a Little Prayer," written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for Dionne Warwick in 1967, subtly recalled David's intention to convey lyrically a woman's concern for her man who was serving in the Vietnam War. Among the standouts was a jazz-inflected solo acoustic version of "Age" from her debut album. La Havas' performance specialized in low-key easy-listening music for mature tastes, perhaps more appropriate for Carnegie Hall than a rock venue.

Visit Lianne La Havas at www.liannelahavas.com.