Laura Mvula, The Tabernacle, London
Tuesday 05 March 2013
There’s much talk of The New Boring, the supposed prevalence of a staid, pleasant, young fogeyish tendency in new music - the success of your Michael Kiwanukas, Adeles and Ben Howards being its most obvious symptom.
You could slot the subtle, tasteful music of Birmingham songwriter Laura Mvula neatly into this tide of tedium. My parents always told me, though, that only boring people get bored, and if you invest a little patient listening in these sophisticated songs, they reveal a nature that is anything but ordinary.
Though she worked on her debut album ‘Sing To The Moon’ with Tom Elmhirst, a Grammy-award winner who has also worked with Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen and the aforementioned Adele, Mvula defies cookie-cutter categories. The songs betray her Birmingham Conservatoire classical training in deft and unexpected structural left turns and unusual arrangements that romp through many more genres than just soul or pop. There’s an imaginative ambition to songs such as ‘Like The Morning Dew’ with its psych-folk tinged meanderings among rolls of martial drums that bring to mind Joanna Newsom rather than, say, Emeli Sande.
‘She’ deploys a favourite trick, a sudden swell of closely chorused backing vocals (courtesy of a band that includes both her brother and sister) before galloping away with increasingly aggressive drums. It’s the shape of these songs rather than melody or emotion that commands the attention in a quiet way, and they do so best when at their most adventurous, as with the practically proggy ‘Is There Anybody Out There’, played for the first time live tonight, but less so on the more run-of-the-mill love soul of ‘Let Me Fall’. ‘Father, Father’, played with simple intensity, has a medieval folk feel live, and recalls the emotional purity of classic, jazzy singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell or Laura Nyro, while the brass-tinged bebop lark of closer ‘Alright’ indulges a more playful side.
If the post-Winehouse kittenish of Mvula’s voice can sometimes irk with its quirkiness, it never feels like she’s the primary focus here; as she puts it, “This is really about celebrating music I’ve grown up with playing in my family, and it’s really a communal celebration, not just about me. “For once it doesn’t sound like false modesty. Boring is as boring does after all, and Mvula is quietly doing more than enough to deserve your attention.
Like The Morning Dew
Let Me Fall
What The Weather
Is There Anybody Out There?
Sing To The Moon
Flying Without You
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
Game of Thrones really doesn't want Danny Dyer - EastEnders star rejected three times
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
The secret joke hidden in Silence of the Lambs' most famous line
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account