Lianne La Havas has been a distinctive voice since the release of her debut album “Is Your Love Big Enough?” Fusing neo-soul, jazz and folk, La Havas built songs, usually about love, around breezy guitars and the simple elegance of her voice.
Returning to Toronto Friday night, in support of her sophomore album, “Blood,” La Havas brought more than just an expanded catalogue. Revealing a more striking side of her vocals, along with more funk and rock thanks to the more sonically incline, “Blood.” “Unstoppable” heavenly “ahhs” gave way to unabashed rhythm guitar grooves, while “Never Get Enough” straddled delicate bossa nova and a distorted, hard-kicking chorus.
Through the thoughtful “Green & Gold” to the hushed ballad “Wonderful,” about a failed romance, La Havas was equally evocative. Commanding attention with the soaring pop of “What You Don’t Do” and the spacious “Tokyo.” A mini-set of “No Room For Doubt” and “Tease Me,” performed without her band reminded fans of the sheer beauty of Ms. La Havas’ voice.
All through songs full of self-determination, questions, affection and loneliness, was the presents of La Havas’ disarming smile. Often bathing in the glow of sing-alongs of songs from her debut album, and dancing with comfort when free from playing guitar. Glimpses of the self-assured and free-spirited La Havas were endearing.
Picking and plucking her way through thorny chords, La Havas playfully replied to audience shout-outs throughout the night with cheeky banter, all while guiding her entire band with such confidence.