Endowed with a sultriness that rivals the likes of Jill Scott and Erykah Badu, Laura Mvula is a woman of many trades. Hailing from Birmingham, England, the 26-year-old former secondary-school teacher and secretary was classically trained in composition at the Birmingham Conservatoire. Her talent is anything but ordinary, a point strengthened by her debut album, Sing to the Moon, which has already garnered her a Critics’ Choice nomination at the 2013 BRIT Awards.
To complement her mesmerizing vocals, Mvula also takes on the role of multi-instrumentalist, dabbling in everything from piano and synth pads to rhythmic stomping. The album is a glorious emotional roller coaster, kicking off with “Like the Morning Dew,” a cheerfully floaty number with intricately stacked vocals gliding throughout. The album progresses in the same breath with her first single, “Green Garden,” an ode to her home in the suburb of Kings Heath, then suddenly takes a somber, wistful turn with “Father, Father.” The album’s real kicker is “She,” a darkly poignant track that twinkles as Mvula reiterates the infectious one-liner “She don’t stop”—a mantra that becomes more heartbreaking as the song wears on.
Gifted beyond her years, Mvula might be called an up-and-coming artist, but she certainly doesn’t make that impression. Her Bowery Ballroom engagement, with Irish songsmith Foy Vance in support, is already sold out, but it might be worth riding the StubHub bandwagon full force this once.—Rachel J. Sonis
Follow Rachel J. Sonis on Twitter: @RachelSonis1