Singer-songwriter Laura Mvula opens her ‘Room’ to fresh inspiration


Laura Mvula’s sound has skyward tendencies: choral harmonies, rounds and repetitions, overdubs, reverbs, chimes pull it high; the rhythm section (when there is one) tends subtle and sparse. On her second album, the Birmingham, England native builds out what her 2013 debut, “Sing to the Moon,” anticipated, with musicians including guitarist John Scofield, bassist Michael Olatuja, and a large ensemble from the London Symphony Orchestra. Mvula runs the show — she’s a church-forged singer, a conservatory-trained composer, and a sensitive lyricist; her songs have the sophistication and idiosyncracy of a singular talent. At times (“Show Me Love”) the ethereal arranging meanders, but mostly (“Bread,” “Kiss My Feet,” “Angel”) it has the authority of a signature. There’s earthiness too: “Overcome” (featuring Nile Rodgers) and “Let Me Fall” are little gems of high-low funk; “People” adds grime rapper Wretch 32; only the dancefloor closer, “Phenomenal Woman,” feels a bit obvious. From the lyrics, “The Dreaming Room” appears to be a breakup album, but without the self-absorption; it feels like Mvula has made a space, opened its windows, and let the ideas breeze in.




Siddhartha Mitter can be reached at