I’ve been eagerly anticipating Laura Mvula’s second album, The Dreaming Room, since her debut was published in 2013. Sing to the Moon is a sumptuous blend of clear vocals and soaring orchestral music. Three years later I’ve still not heard anything like it.
“Green Garden” is a solid introduction to Mvula’s style: instantly nostalgic, stylish, and smooth. Through the lyrics of the song and her own body language, Mvula declares the reality she wants to live in: “I’ll fly / with the wings of a butterfly / High as the treetops, then down again.”
The video for “Green Garden” invokes a healing scene of near-worship in Toni Morison’s Beloved:
In this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it… This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you.” —Baby Suggs, Beloved
And then comes Round 2 from Mvula: “Overcome.” The vocals and the strings there are back!
Mvula traces a few recurring bars across these two albums. The notes are modified enough to feel new and continuous enough to stay familiar.
Change-workers have a longstanding debate about being “liberal” and interested in progressing toward good or “conservative” and interested in conserving what’s good. Through these two songs, Mvula does both, encouraging affirmation and strength, reveling in design and dance, and loving this body, just as Baby Suggs asked us to.
Take your broken wings and fly.” —Laura Mvula