5 October 2013

Laura Mvula - Sing To The Moon

This album was possibly the hardest thing I've had to listen to. Not being a jazz afficiando (Only jazz record I've heard was a guy called Mose Allison and it was rather good). It goes from being an interesting affair to sounding like the stock music that used to play when the BBC would show ceefax (Remember that?) in the wee small hours. It makes Dido sound like thumping Dutch gabber.

I reviewed this as part of the blog task of covering an artist or two who have been featured as a nominee in the 2013 Mercury Music Awards. According to Wiki, Miss Mvula has classed (former 80's girl group) Eternal as one of her influences! This, and I'll be honest with you, put me on guard straight away because Eternal were a really rubbish group. They actually fired their best member (Louise Nurding) and even she was crap! But what is the album actually like? Well...

To be fair, it is a decent album from a critical standpoint in that Miss Mvula is a great singer. Her voice both soars and swoops in the songs and shows off a great vocal range, almost haunting in fact. It's been about 10 min since I heard the album and one of the songs is still with me, so I guess it must've had more of a positive impact than I thought. In a way, it's refreshing as we seem to be in an era where it's even more so about image, be it trying to come across as a crazy batshit eccentric who has a complete bells-and-whistles-ear-candy-production whilst being vocally autotuned up the ass (Lady GaGa, Jessie J, Ke$ha, Nikki Jumanji or whatever the fuck she's called) or a semi-naked harridian who reckons being sexually charged is equal to talented but comes across like a desperate and stupid looking muppet (Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Madonna). I'd actually go out on a limb and say that we need more singers like this in the charts these days, it would perhaps restore some credibility to what is otherwise a giant musical pissing contest. As good as the voice is, the music is a major letdown as - to my ears at least - there doesn't seem to be much variation to it, all slow and stuff. Think of those American film noire movies where the lead is in the late night jazz bar (Or speakeasy depending on the films era), mulling stuff over a rye while some bit of fluff sings in the corner. Now in principle, that sounds alright but some variety would have been nice! Mind, there are a couple of good songs which are a nice change - "That's Alright" is a nice little uptempo number with the aforementioned trumpet melody and "Green Garden" is another one. The rest are all ballads of various quality. Pleasing to some ears but not mine.

There isn't really much more I can say about this other than to reiterate some points already made. It's great to have a decent lady singer who doesn't rely on shaking her moneymaker who is doing music that doesn't require major surgery but a bit more variety wouldn't have gone amiss. Having said that, this is the first album so we may have a suprise or two by the second one. As for this one? I guess it may attract fans but it's not gonna be a one that ends up in my playlist any time soon. Hey, it's better than GaGa the She/He-Beast!

Chris J.

3/10 - Not for everyone, but played well.

You can buy this album on iTunes.

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