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.

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Tags: Laura Mvula, gospeldelic soul, review

Comment by Harrisonaphotos on August 12, 2013 at 10:07am

An interesting review for ND; especially as you don't appear to 'like' it; but...your feelings mirror my own, having listened to it.

    There's resurgence in what used to be known as 'dinner jazz' in the UK at the moment and I think she fits in to that category very well; although I really do disagree with the comparison to Nina Simone; even if it is mentioned on the press release! :)

Comment by Barbara Bruederlin on August 12, 2013 at 8:32pm

Dinner jazz, eh? Oh dear that does sound like an unfortunate direction in which to take jazz.

It's good to know that we share an opinion on this album, Alan. Thanks for letting me know!


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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.