Thursday, August 08, 2013

sing in uneasy time

Sing to the Moon - Laura Mvula

There has been no shortage of praise among music critics for Laura Mvula's recently released debut album, Sing to the Moon. The classically-trained British soul and jazz singer has scooped up plenty of critical acclaim for her highly stylized gospeldelic sound. Filled with intensely layered doo-wop harmony, time changes and highly unusual compositions, the songs on Sing to the Moon are certainly distinctive, but they can sometimes be a challenging listen.

There is no denying the beauty of Mvula's versatile voice and the unique composition of her songs, but personally I found much of the music on the album to be either draggy or grating. Though comparisons to icons like Nina Simone are certainly valid, it's bands like Tune-Yards (who I like in small doses) and The Dirty Projectors (who I cannot tolerate), that spring immediately to my mind, thanks to Mvula's liberal use of time change and melody interruption.

The more upbeat tracks like the finger-snapping gem Green Garden, That's Alright and Flying Without You (which breaks down into a horn-filled extravaganza) were lively enough to allow me to appreciate the unusual structure while still being pacified by a steady beat. I wish there had been more songs like that on Sing to the Moon.

Sing to the Moon is not for everybody and it certainly isn't a comfortable album for people who, like myself, are irritated by discordant structure. But I would encourage anyone to listen and decide for yourself if it speaks to you.


Eugene Knapik said...

I don't know this music (yet) but let me just offer up 3 cheers for people who are making any music that is not for everybody, even if it's quirky or difficult or lumpy or whatever (even if I personally don't like it). I'm glad to see it recorded and happy to see it have an audience!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

My sentiments exactly, Eugene, and said much more eloquently than I could.

Missy said...

Oh I do love this album, despite the observations you have made. It is not perfect, but it is refreshing to me. I actually sought her out due to hearing her song in a commercial during Wimbledon coverage, of all things.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I am thrilled to hear that, Missy, because I really do think this is a unique and worthy album. It's not for me, but that doesn't take anything away from it.