With so many talented British female singers around, what makes Laura Mvula stand out?
Based: Birmingham, UK
Listen to: ‘She’, ‘Green Garden’
For Fans Of: Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse
Laura Mvula emerged out of nowhere back in Autumn 2011. A single track, titled ‘She’, sent ripples across the internet as more and more of the musically inclined went nuts over a sound they’d heard nothing of previous. Initially she was portrayed as an upcoming, emerging artist, but it soon translated - within a couple of days following her emergence - that she’d penned an international record deal with RCA and Sony. You can imagine the label scout attending one of her initial shows. Intrigue would turn to wonder and fascination. Big bucks would appear above their heads alongside a flashing lightbulb. Laura Mvula is all talent, but she’s also going to be making certain individuals a lot of money.
There’s very little going against the 26-year old, who studied composition at the Birmingham Conservatoire. She caters to the dinner-party crowd, sure, and that’s likely to be the basis of many a backlash, but there’s invention at the heart of every one of her tracks. Each effort unveiled to date has a strange eccentricity, be it the sudden choral rush of ‘Like the Morning Dew’ or the odd vocoder section of ‘Green Garden’. If she studied hard at composition, Mvula will have found out a thing or two about keeping an audience enraptured. Said eccentricities do the trick. Rarely does your attention falter. You’re at a constant in being thrilled by the flurry of instrumentation and Laura’s wondrous voice. It all comes down to the voice, in the end. Few possess anything like it. Laura floats effortlessly between notes like a bird touring the skies. While the musicianship in a track like ‘Green Garden’ could be overwhelming, outcrowding the average voice, Laura’s voice is far from that. It holds its own in all manner of circumstances. And it’s unique, not to the extent that it’ll draw in a host of copycats - like, say, the first time a group of teenage talents heard Amy Winehouse sing - but it’s fascinating all the same. Many have compared her to Nina Simone, but there’s something in Laura’s voice that gives it daylight between potential contemporaries.
A debut album in the form of ‘Sing To The Moon’ is primed for release on 4th March. Already listed amongst BBC’s ‘Sound of 2013’ - chosen by over 100 tastemakers across the UK - there’s enough hype surrounding the first full-length to render it drowned by expectation. But something tells us the odd festival slot, and an inevitable showcase on Jools Holland, alongside other achievements, will give Laura Mvula’s career an extra lease of life.