With the 2013 release of debut Sing to the Moon, singer and classically-trained composer Laura Mvula went from receptionist to the next big thing in British music virtually overnight.
Adele comparisons for any UK soul singer are requisite, but misguided. There are bits of Björk and whispers of Nina Simone, but Mvula sounds like virtually nothing in pop music. Her singular voice is matched by daring compositions – layered, lush, and lovely.
Mvula played SXSW 2013 and makes a return trip to Austin for one of a handful of North American stops on her current tour. Her challenge remains replicating Sing to the Moon’s sweeping orchestral sound with a fivepiece band that includes harp, cello, and violin.
“One of the best things about performing my music in a live setting is the connection with the audience,” she explains. “Being able to feel their responsiveness and enjoyment really fuels me and keeps me focused on what my music is all about. It’s always lovely to be able to come all the way over to the U.S. and Canada and find people that are as passionate about my music, sometimes even more so than those at home.”
While performing in front of a live audience is something Mvula has learned to embrace, the reluctant leading lady still wrestles with stage fright, and perhaps always will.
“It varies depending on the atmosphere and the occasion,” she reports. “I recently performed at the BAFTAs [British Academy Film Awards] and looking out on to all those faces – Oprah, Brad and Angelina, Emma Thompson, Prince William – it was a completely different experience. In some ways the nervousness I experience adds a dimension to the process. I suspect that will always exist, but we’ll see.”– Thomas Fawcett
The post-rock chamber pit continues for Godspeed You! Black Emperor guitarist Efrim Menuck, whose 15-year-old, lyric-entrusted Canadian offshoot Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra just dropped seventh symphony Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything. Its six austere movements of operatic guitars, aggro drums, and strung-out violins meet Menuck’s rangy poetics, which sound like Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce gone astrological.– Chase Hoffberger