Laura Mvula

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Sing to the Moon (2013), 6/10
The Dreaming Room (2016), 5/10
Pink Noise (2021), 4/10

English black singer-songwriter Laura Mvula (born Laura Douglas in Birmingham), classically trained, debuted with the four-song EP She (2012): if She is marginally related to smooth soul balladry and the vocal counterpoint of Like the Morning Dew harks back to doo-wop of the 1950s, the orchestral aria Jump Right Out evokes Broadway musicals and Hollywood sountracks of the 1960s and the six-minute Can't Live With the World is a dreamy neoclassical lied with harp and trumpet. She came through as an elegant hybrid of Sade, Kate Bush and Billie Holiday. The album Sing to the Moon (2013), produced by Steve Brown, simply increased that passion for overwrought arrangements with a set of massively orchestral songs that absorb elements from both the popular and the classical tradition. Sometimes poetic and almost funereal (Sing to the Moon) and sometimes carefree and nonchalant (Make Me Lovely) the songs stick to an austere vision of the song format. I Don't Know What the Weather Will Be is the closest to the complex orchestral-choral architectures of the EP. Luckily, she also discovers the meaning of "rhythm" in the stomping gospel of Green Garden (a` la Adele's Rolling in the Deep) and in the brutish jump blues That's Alright, the album's highlight.

The album was re-recorded the following year with a full orchestra, conducted by Jules Buckley at Abbey Road Studios: Laura Mvula With Metropole Orkest (2014).

Troy Miller produced the songs Little Girl Blue (2013) and You Work For Me (2015) that appeared on film soundtracks. After the single Overcome, Miller and Mvula crafted the album The Dreaming Room (2016) with the London Symphony Orchestra. The songs are sandwiched between tributes to the disco culture of the 1970s, the funky Overcome and the pounding Phenomenal Woman. Despite the orchestra, there is nothing classical left here: just bombastic muzak. Show me Love is the one song to save.

In 2017 she composed the music for a theatre production of Shakespeare's play Antony & Cleopatra by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The EP 1/f (2021) contains Green Garden, Show Me Love and Sing to the Moon and acover of Diana Ross' I'm Still Waiting (1971).

Pink Noise (2021), produced by Dann Hume, sounds like a tribute to dance-pop and keyboards-driven soul of the 1980s, from Phil Collins (Before the Dawn), Toto (Magical) and Michael Jackson (Got Me) to Madonna (Pink Noise), and Whitney Huston (Church Girl). It's a futile exercise in imitation and dejavu, with an overload of truly obnoxious filler, including lead single Safe Passage.

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