ALBUM REVIEW: Lianne La Havas “Is Your Love Big Enough?”

An appearance on the Jools Holland show is rarely a bad career move, but seldom does it really bolster an artist to the next level. However, when 22 year old South Londoner Lianne La Havas appeared on the show last October, her tender, thought-provoking rendition of “Age” became the talk of the music world for her stirring delivery and unforgettable vocal. Any music journo worth their salt knew that La Havas was a star in the making, and unsurprisingly she went on to appear in a wealth of Tips for Top 2012 lists. So with so many eyes watching her, the question on many a tongue this week is can La Havas overcome the external pressures and deliver on her highly anticipated debut “Is Your Love Big Enough?”

Thankfully the answer is a resounding YES! “Is Your Love Big Enough?” may be a little ballad heavy, but La Havas’ silky smooth tones and subtle compositions are beautiful to the core. “Is Your Love Big Enough?” truly showcases La Havas’ ability to really channel her emotions without ever overblowing the sentiment puts her in a similar league to effortless chanteuses Erykah Badu, Ane Brun, Ayo and Asa.

La Havas is at her finest when she is at the extreme of a spectrum. Album standouts are the effortless beauty of the stirring introspective “Lost & Found” and the fresh bite of break-up anthem “Forget”.

“Is Your Love Big Enough?” is so intrinsically beautiful that it is night on impossible to criticise. From the reflective pondering of the heartbroken – “Is Your Love Big Enough?” to the nonchalant sass – “”Don’t Wake Me Up”, La Havas engages her listener with her insightful musings and toe tapping numbers.

La Havas is unlike many of the artists who show early promise, top polls and the disappear, she has managed to followed through with a gracefully impressive debut and if there is any justice in the world, she will reap the rewards of her consistently superlative efforts. Without any doubt La Havas is the true star of 2012.

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

ALBUM REVIEW: Jesca Hoop “The House That Jack Built”

Three years is a long time in terms of musical trends, and many an artist returns to the fold after time out to find that their sound is deemed no longer relevant. However, Californian born, Manchester based singer/songwriter Jesca Hoop is an act that defies trends. While her sound has a distinct folk-pop base, it easily surfs between genres and is all the more relevant for its diversity.

As Hoop returns with “The House That Jack Built”, her third album and the follow-up to 2009’s “Hunting My Dress”, it is clear that Hoop has a bit more bite in her belly as she mixes attitude and openness in equal measure. The delicate “Pack Animal” epitomises the mix, with a pretty melody matched by strong, forthright lyrics.

While her earlier releases more than showcased Hoop’s abilities to pen a pretty ditty, “The House That Jack Built” suggests that Hoop has been paying attention the some of Scandinavia’s finest, with Bjork’s eccentricity channelled for the romp “Peacemaker”, Kate Havnevik’s verve for “Hospital (Win Your Love)”, Ane Brun’s heartfelt storytelling for “The House That Jack Built” and Olof Arnald’s ponderings on “D.N.R”. All these points of reference are delivered with panache and individuality, those comparisons can be drawn, Hoop is in a league of her very own.

While all the aforementioned help to form the near perfect ten track “The House That Jack Built”, Hoop really shines on the more playful numbers. While “Ode To Banksy” is a proper earworm, its sugary sweet delivery never nears the irritating. Equally noteworthy is the soulfully direct “Dig This Record”, which should it ever be released to radio, would be a strong contendor for the number 1 spot.

“The House That Jack Built” may not be Hoop’s most original effort, but that is far from a detracting factor. A tender, touching beautiful record which mixes colours to paint a perfect picture. Hoop is hot property right now, and if “The House That Jack Built” is a taster of what is still to come from Miss Hoop, then album number 4 excites me already…

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

ALBUM REVIEW: Louise Latham “Reclaimed”

Boasting the whimsical lyrical innocence of Lotte Mullan and the colourful vocal of Paula Cole, Cardiff native Louise Latham is an exciting musical prospect. Chirping “I’m not a saint”, on the opening track (“Saint”) of her debut album “Reclaimed”, is an angelic presence whose protestations hang curiously in the air. Who is Latham? What has she to say? Why so adamant as she makes her introduction? As soon as her proclaiming ceases, she kicks into the dancey come-on “Melt Me Down Like Chocolate”, and it is clear that her duality oozes appeal.

Latham’s easy on the eye and easy on the ear appeal is immediately apparent, but what makes her such an interesting artist is that she can bolster the power like Nell Bryden, reign it all in like Ane Brun but most importantly tell a story like the unforgettable Eva Cassidy.

While “Erase Me” provides the album’s low point mid-way through proceedings, Latham rarely slips up in the album’s structure. Though the lush subtleties of “Together Tonight” form the album highlight, the country strut of “Young Boy” and whirl of “Melt Me Like Chocolate” make a strong case for Latham to explore the Paula Cole as opposed to Sarah MacLahlan within.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

WIN! Signed Ane Brun Albums!!

As you may have noticed here at The Kaje we are more than a little enamoured with Swedish songstress Ane Brun. There is no easy way to describe the way in which Ane Brun moves us. Ane Brun is simply something else. Something more. More than just a musician who moves her audience, Brun is able to compel through her implicit connection with her own compositions. Having polled “It All Starts With One” within our Top 20 Albums of 2011, our fascination has increased ten-fold with the release of the inexplicably beautiful double disc deluxe edition last month. Spellbound, we are thrilled to announce that Brun has kindly given us a handful of signed albums to help spread the word. If you would like to get your hands on one, simply tell us the title of the Ane Brun and Jose Gonzalez duet as featured on “It All Starts With One”… Answers to

LIVE REVIEW: Ane Brun, o2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire (London), 28.04.12

Any The Kaje regulars will know that Ane Brun is a little bit of an office favourite. Having taken her fanbase and critics by storm with her latest studio album, the long-awaited “It All Starts With One”, Brun treated dedicated followers to an equally impressive deluxe double disc edition of the award-winning collection. To top it all off, Brun has headed out on the road to cement her place in her fans hearts. But before we get to see our much-loved Norwegian folkstress, she has ensured a magical line-up to warm  the atmosphere for her arrival.

Up first is fellow Norwegian, Brun’s cellist Linnea Olsson. With selections from her recently released debut album “Ah!”, Olsson demonstrates a warm wit and stirring musical capability. An other-wordly vocal sends shivers down the spine, while Olsson waxes lyrical about comical love situations and obscure life experiences. Effortlessly winning the rapidly growing audience, Olsson’s set flies by in the blink of an eye, but no doubt leads to endless sales at the merch desk immediately post-set.

Confident performer Gemma Ray arrives on stage thankful to be performing on home turf. While she is clearly aware of her own abilities, Ray never descends into arrogance. Instead she swaggers her way through a varied set of colourful sixties influenced numbers. As the set draws to a close, she slows down the pace and allows her powerful vocal to take centre stage. Though her swinging step had got the toes tapping and shoulders shaking, the smoulder of her closing numbers were truly captivating.

Dressed in a flowing shiny purple silver gown, Brun breezes onto stage to screaming applause and launches immediately into the soothing yet haunting “These Days”. A silence descends immediately on the enchanted audience and it is apparent that Brun has immediately captured the hearts of all those that fill the sold out venue. Moving swiftly into the playful “It All Starts With One”, Brun demonstrates a fascinating ability to entirely lose herself within her moment yet at simultaneously interact and engage with everyone that surrounds her.

As Brun sashays her way through material old and new, a pin drop could
be heard as the silent audience are lost in the awe-inspiring magical moments that just ooze from Brun’s very presence.

While Brun may not be the most chatty of performers,when she speaks, she speaks with sincerity and warmth. Never feeling the need to explain the lyrics that so clearly touch her audience, instead she engages in light banter and encourages sing along moments. Genuinely touched by the warm response she receives, Brun commits 110% to every beat and every sound. Clever use of lighting and a skilled band enhance Brun’s presence and lift the night further into the realm of truly spectacularly unforgettable.

With her set evaporating quicker than stardust, Brun returns so to rework a personal favourite of hers, Arcade Fire’s “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” as an encore for an audience hungry for more. Luckily for them Brun is in no hurry to head off as she welcomes her band back on stage to continue the show.

Brun is much more than a musician, she feels each twist and turn of a song and expresses it physically and vocally in a manner that truly connects and uplifts an audience. While on record she shines, on stage she blinds with her brilliance.

Rating: 5/5
Review and Photographs: Jeremy Williams

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