From her lilting accent to what she calls an “all day long” tea habit, folk-soul singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas is London to the core. But her gorgeous second LP, Blood (July 31, Warner Bros.), is a global affair, inspired in part by the 25-year-old’s international travels and background. La Havas breaks down the many places and spaces behind the album.
“My mom is Jamaican, and I went with her to stay with an old cousin. I was so emotional. I saw my great-grandmother’s house, my granddad, an uncle I’d never met before. It helped me understand who I really am in a different way than I ever have. I got the chance to work with [producer] Stephen McGregor [Mavado, Elephant Man] in Kingston, which is like hallowed ground. Now, when my family calls Jamaica ‘home,’ I know what they’re saying.”
“The song ‘Tokyo’ is about the loneliness you feel when you’re going from place to place. Tokyo seemed like the best place to discuss that: It’s such a bustling city, but you can feel so alone there. The movie Lost in Translation is about that — it was in our minds when we were writing.”
“New York is a great place for me to write. It’s like a movie set — it feels so familiar because of films and videos. It’s like you’ve already been there, but it’s even bigger and better than what you heard about it.”
“My father is from Greece. I was 8 when I last went, but it’s still really fresh. We went to see the Acropolis, for example, and the crumbling — I remember it vividly. In the song ‘Green and Gold’ I use the lyric ‘ancient stone’ to represent Greece and my father, who was a stone mason. I’m so proud they’re my parents — that’s why I called the album Blood. I have this rich cultural past to feast on.”
Listen to Blood, and more music from this week’s issue, in the Spotify playlist below:
This story originally appeared in the Aug. 8 issue of Billboard.