Release Date: May 14, 2013
Record label: RCA Victor
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
There's no shortage of conservatory-trained female British soul vocalists (see Adele and Amy Winehouse — and that's just the As), but rest assured you haven't heard an album remotely like Laura Mvula's debut. The 26-year-old Birmingham Conservatoire grad fuses jazzy melodics, pop balladry, orchestral flourishes and pleading gospel to astonishing effect — her immaculately crafted LP sounds like Jill Scott, Feist, Tune-Yards and a 1940s film score simultaneously cranking on a vintage gramophone. Mvula's twin muses are love and nature, and she probes their uncertainty and possibilities via theatrical character studies ("She") and doo-wop-charged rave-ups ("Green Garden").
Laura Mvula has seen her world transform in double-time around her. A scant year ago she was trembling through part-time jobs and casual writing sessions – sessions which would sow the seed of her soon-to-be flourishing musical career. BRIT and BBC Sound Of 2013 nominations followed a spray of lauded singles, piquing the interests of Jessie Ware, Paloma Faith and a multitude o fUK tastemakers.
UK singer-songwriter Laura Mvula seemingly popped out of nowhere to deliver her dreamy debut, Sing To The Moon, an album that shines with earnestness, was composed with deftness and presented with the bearing of a more journeyed artist. The 25-year-old immediately invites comparisons to a modern day Nina Simone, with acute "Erykah Badu meets Jill Scott" sensibilities. "Like the Morning Dew" kicks it off with layered brightness, setting the tone.
Laura Mvula has made one the year's most intriguing albums. While much of the current pop landscape is obsessing over low-end rhythm, the 26-year-old Birmingham, England, singer/composer sounds refreshingly - as the album title indicates - as if she's gently ascending heavenward. Harmonically complex and utterly blissful, Mvula's songs cut their own path through classical and pop traditions as gracefully and unassumingly as seeds floating on a warm summer breeze.
Best known perhaps, as the home of Black Sabbath, Electric Light Orchestra, Duran Duran and UB40, B-Town, as the NME has labeled it, is currently undergoing something of a musical renaissance with some amazing new acts emanating from this proud and once great industrial city. And just like the city has undergone change and regeneration in the post-industrial era, so to has the music. For those less au fait with the term B-Town, it refers to the city of Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city and to a group of loosely aligned indie bands, headed up by current media darlings Peace, Swim Deep and Jaws.
It's easy to think you have the measure of 25-year-old Birmingham singer-songwriter Laura Mvula. The nomination for the Brits Critics' Choice award, the presence of former Rumer collaborator Steve Brown, comparisons to Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone and Billie Holliday, the forthcoming support slot on Paloma Faith's tour: it all seems to suggest yet another addition to the mountain of Radio 2-friendly retro-soul. It's hard to react to that prospect with anything other than a weary groan, unless, of course, you're one of the hundreds of thousands of people who, nearly eight years after Amy Winehouse's Back to Black, keep buying albums made in its image with astonishing alacrity.
Birmingham singer Laura Mvula has been garnering plenty of adoring reviews across the pond. Even before her debut album Sing to the Moon was released in Britain, she was shortlisted for the prestigious Critics Choice Award at the 2013 BRIT awards. Since the album was released, Mvula’s bright-hued retro-soul has been praised to the heavens for originality while simultaneously being compared to the luminary likes of Nina Simone and David Axelrod.
Birmingham Conservatoire graduate and former music instructor Laura Mvula appeared in November 2012 with She, a four-song EP led by its title track. An elaborate and uplifting number -- part lullaby, part empowerment anthem -- "She" was unlike anything on the U.K. charts. It left an impression immediate and deep enough to land her a nomination for the BBC's Sound of 2013 poll.
The two-minute elevator pitch is something of a cliche in the film industry. You stitch together a few easily assimilable movie references, then add twists in an effort to grip the power broker trapped in the lift. "It's a political action thriller", you might babble, "but stylish, like Skyfall, and set in the future, only with lemurs; the love interest is Rachel Weisz." You want to imagine that pop stars and their debut albums are not pitched like this.
It’s been a remarkable rise for Birmingham soul singer Laura Mvula since she made the decision to send off two demos in the hope of escaping her job as a receptionist. It was not long until the 25-year-old’s raw talent was picked up and, in May 2012, Mvula, who has a degree in music composition from Birmingham Conservatoire, signed to RCA. She subsequently released her debut EP She to critical acclaim in November and has been hotly tipped for stardom in 2013 ever since.
Birmingham’s Laura Mvula arrives already richly adorned with praise. Nominated for both the Critics’ Choice Award at the Brits and the Sound Of 2013, she’s on a carefully plotted course to follow the likes of Ellie Goulding straight to the heart of daytime radio. Produced by the guy who has helped to successfully duct-tape Rumer to the Radio 2 playlist, Mvula’s keenly awaited debut record is ornate, gentle and clearly composed by someone with vast musical training.
An album that has to be heard to be believed. Fraser McAlpine 2013 Now here’s a gap we didn’t know needed filling: between Nina Simone at her most stern, and The Beach Boys at their most baroque. It’s a gap that Laura Mvula – composition graduate, supply teacher, Sound of 2013 contender – has decided to fill with her daring arrangements. These are bliss-bombs of massed vocal harmonies, brave melodic excursions, and an entire orchestra playing only in fragments, when it really matters.
Trading in the GarageBand strings and brass on these compositions (written while she was the receptionist for the City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) for the real deal, Laura Mvula's debut album arrives garlanded with praise. What's refreshing is that, by its close, not only do you find yourself backing these tips for greatness, but the album — an immaculately drawn piece of jazz-inflected pop — is loaded with such originality that Mvula's carved out a niche of her own in 2013's musical landscape. The entry point for many will be second single 'Green Garden', currently getting heavy radio play, but which almost wrongfoots you as to the album's direction.
Don't lump British soul singer Laura Mvula in with retro revivalists. A classically trained composer, Mvula marries the smoky solemnity of Nina Simone with the daring whimsy of Björk, filling a dozen songs with lush orchestration, soaring choral harmonies, and a thousand strings tickling the senses like tiny blades of grass. Layers of sound swell up and cascade away to reveal simple love songs timeless and profound.
Laura Mvula SING TO THE MOON. The songs on Laura Mvula’s debut album, “Sing to the Moon” (Columbia), hail from some alternate pop universe: a realm of choirs and orchestras, of dense harmonies and of songs that unfurl their own forms rather than follow verse-chorus-verse formulas. Ms. Mvula ….
It would be a bit of an understatement to say there’s a weight of expectation for Laura Mvula’s debut record: she was shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice award at the BRIT Awards and finished fourth in the BBC’s Sound Of 2013 list. She’s even had a new genre invented to describe her sound: ‘gospeldelia’.Of course ‘gospeldelia’ is a ridiculous term that sounds like something Alan Partridge might use. So it’s amusing that ‘Sing To The Moon’ was written with Partridge’s conductor sidekick and ‘the most talented easy-listening batonsman of his era’ Glen Ponder (ok, his real name is Steve Brown and he’s very talented but still…).