An entertaining musical twist.
British singer and song writer Laura Mvula released her second album The Dreaming Room and it is practically flawless – like the winged eyeliner Mvula always rocks. Straying away from her retro-soul style, she brings a very impressive arrangement in her new 12-track album; it’s a mix of familiar sounds shaped in originality and uniqueness. The Dreaming Room is playful and a real form of musical entertainment.
Matching its title, “Overcome” is a strong number with a steady stomping beat as Mvula sings, “Keep your head up, carry on.” “Lay the breadcrumbs down, so we can find our way” Mvula sings in “Bread,” a Hansel and Gretel-esque number that produces unique combination of symbols, xylophones and string arrangements. The groovy soul track “Let Me Fall” features an interesting mix of groovy feels with an electronic piano melody tuned in with drum beats. “Kiss My Feet” is a dark soul number with a marching beat completed by a slow xylophone melody.
Longest track on the album, “Show Me Love” is a slow and enchanting piano ballad that will easily swoon any girl into feeling like Cinderella on the ballroom floor. As cliché it may sound, “Show Me Love” could ideally be suited for a Disney princess movie with its ringing organ chords and string accompaniment. Sandwiched between “Show Me Love” and “Angel” is an orchestra instrumental number “Renaissance Moon” – a little surprise track for those enjoying the album in full order.
Starting off with banjo-style strumming, “Angel” gradually evolves into a holy choir harp number “wishing you happiness.” This very religious and spiritual number could almost be suitable for the holiday season. Dramatically switching from the peaceful sounds of “Angel,” Mvula brings a strong and empowering number called “People.” It has dark guitar strums accompanied by heavy drumbeats; it really puts a contrast on the concept between people and angels. It can be assumed that she is hinting to the inequalities experienced by those of black ethnicity as she sings, “our skin was a terrible thing to live in.”
“Nan” is actually a minute-long phone conversation shared between Mvula and a close figure, Nan. A memorable line by Nan is, “Write a song that I can lift my spirits. Write a song I can jig my foot.” As Mvula responds with a laughing “Yes,” the conversation reflects how Mvula’s spiritual and religious side has shaped her thoughts and mindset on music. Finishing the album with some female empowerment is “Phenomenal Women,” which begins with an MJ-like intro and enters a very groovy and hip chorus. “Oh my she fly!” she belts out, making “Phenomenal Women” a catchy end to this playful album.
Not only is the album in touch with her spiritual and religious side, it also reflects a sense of self-realization – Mvula’s reflection on her recent personal turmoil. The Dreaming Room is a very impressive arrangement of musical variety. It is definitely a head turner and quite the opposite of what many would expect from the retro-soul singer. Despite its at times odd arrangements and variety in the tracks itself, it works – in fact, it works extremely well. The Dreaming Room is an album of true quality and true musical experimentation. Her unique and original work in The Dreaming Room is bound to set Mvula apart and on a pedestal in the music industry.