Earlier today I reported that James Blake (the musician, not the tennis player) won the Mercury Prize. Blake, however, was not the favorite to earn the coveted distinction, which honors the best album from the United Kingdom and Ireland. Birmingham (the English city, not the American one) native Laura Mvula was in fact the odds-on favorite to go home with the prize, and for good reason.
Many have compared to Mvula to the incredible Nina SImone,
Personally, I can’t raise her to that level. At least not yet. But if Mvula’s debut effort Sing to the Moon is any indication, she clearly has the potential to be an industry heavyweight.
Much of the album has a comforting retro-soul feel, think The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, but more laid back. On songs like the UK smash single “Green Garden” Mvula is at her best as the uplifting beat perfectly compliments her rich vocals.
Mvula is at her best when she allows her voice to shine. Case in point, this stripped back performance on NPR “Tiny Desk” where Mvula and her keyboard take center stage.
Selfishly, I’m happy Mvula hasn’t hit the mainstream in the U.S. but her time will come soon enough. Until then I will relish in her Stateside obscurity and look forward to seeing what she has in store for us next.
Let us know in the comments below which up and coming artist should be next week’s “Hear Them Now” pick!