MOJO Recommends: Laura Mvula
'Mojo' Editor-in-Chief Phil Alexander spotlights the best new British talent
11:45pm, VEVO TV Control Room
Over the last decade, Britain has produced an impressive list of soul-influenced divas: Duffy, Amy Winehouse, and, lately, Adele. It would be tempting to add Laura Mvula to that list. It would also be wrong.
For all the pop sensibilities that the 25-year-old Birmingham singer possesses, hers is not music that comes purely from the soul heap. While she enjoyed a stint in her aunt's a capella gospel quintet, Black Voices, Mvula was also enthralled by classical music where she developed her scoring skills. Initial compositions sprang from this blend of sources, her skills then augmented further by producer Steve Brown. Introduced by a mutual friend, Brown – working at the time on fellow songstress Rumer's debut LP, Seasons of My Soul – became impressed by Mvula's classical grounding and turned her on to the Beach Boys. Mvula found herself captivated by the sound, and particularly the complexities, of Brian Wilson's compositions. This harmonic element proved the final piece she needed to create her own individual sound – a sound that's bold, assertive, and which, if a facile comparison can contain it, emerges like a collision between the songwriting sensibilities of Brian Wilson and Roberta Flack.
A digital EP, She, released last November was enough to see Mvula tipped by MOJO as the voice of 2013 in the magazine's New Year preview issue. The promise of this EP paled in significance compared to the sheer scope and ambition exhibited on Mvula's debut album, Sing to the Moon, which was just released on RCA in the UK. Her blend of harmonies and orchestral arrangements are simply stunning without ever veering into the realms of the indulgent or overcomplex. One listen to multilayered opener "Like the Morning Dew" should be enough to convince you of her towering talent. Then there are the other equally ambitious 12 tracks on offer.
In many respects, Sing to the Moon is a fine example of intergalactic 21st century pop, although whether it's pop at all truly remains to be seen. What's beyond all doubt is the fact that Laura Mvula has arrived.
Kevin Curtin, Fri., May 17, 2013
Jim Caligiuri, Fri., May 17, 2013
Austin Powell, Fri., May 17, 2013
Raoul Hernandez, Fri., May 17, 2013
Michael Toland, Fri., May 3, 2013
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