Laura Mvula

Sing to the Moon (Columbia)

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Laura Mvula

Sing 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.

****

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