Prom 45: Laura Mvula, review
Royal Albert Hall, London
Nick Hasted has been a film journalist since 1986. He writes about film, music, books and comics for The Independent, Sight & Sound, Uncut and Little White Lies. He has published two books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), and You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), both from Omnibus Press.
Wednesday 20 August 2014
Laura Mvula’s flexible musical mind sets her apart from pop singers she might otherwise be bracketed with, favouring ambiguous emotions and unpredictable jazz and classical contours.
Her recent re-recording of last year’s hit debut, Sing to the Moon, with the remarkable Dutch polymaths Metropole Orkest shows both are rigorously equipped for this Prom.
The star American jazz singer/bassist Esperanza Spalding duets on Mvula’s own arrangement of “Can’t Live With the World”. The sultry balm of Spalding’s vocal, floating with experienced freedom over the orchestration, seems to inspire Mvula.
When the ominous pulse of bass and cello on “Is There Anybody Out There?” is slashed to a stop by a xylophone mallet, Mvula’s head hangs to the side, the lyric leaving her caged by “fear”.
Mvula moves to the piano for the pensive pleading of her deepest song, “Father Father”, its riches fully mined with the Orkest.
She encores as she began musically back in her Birmingham home, singing Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” with just brother James on cello.
Looking fondly at him, she fully expresses herself. Then she briefly conducts the Orkest, breaking barriers with a laugh.
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