Sing to the Moon (Columbia)
Reviewed by Thomas Fawcett, Fri., Sept. 6, 2013
Laura MvulaSing to the Moon (Columbia)
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. The 27-year-old subtly weaves her vocals into compositions rather than taking center stage, yet her velvet voice haunts. A decidedly downbeat affair gets a shot of dopamine from the celestial soul clap of "Green Garden" and the self-affirming "That's Alright," where Mvula declares, "I'll play my own damn tune/I'll shine like the moon." Sing to the Moon is a bold and beautiful debut: airy and dense, soul and jazz, dark and light. Head in the clouds, toes in the dirt.