Photos by G.
Here’s a name you need to know: Laura Mvula. The British singer played her first headlining show in New York on May 20, 2013 at Bowery Ballroom and obviously, it was sold out. She had to move the show from the originally scheduled (and much smaller venue) Mercury Lounge date to accommodate overwhelming demand for tickets. Makes perfect sense to me. After a great set by Irish singer Foy Vance, whose voice has an a quality not unlike the voice of Ray LaMontagne, Laura Mvula (pronounced “M. Voola”) hit the stage at 9:30 PM.
This was my second time seeing Foy Vance and just like the first time I saw him, before the end of the show, he got the entire crowd singing along. He mentioned that he has a new album coming out eminently, so you should definitely check out his music if you are looking to hear the music of a singer/songwriter who has an insanely great voice.
Laura Mvula’s music, if you aren’t already familiar with it, has elements of soul and jazz and the internet rightly has mentioned a Nina Simone/Amy Winehouse -esque quality to her voice. In between songs, she told stories about what she was going to play for us and had mentioned that earlier in the day, one of her heroes, Jill Scott, tweeted her seal of approval to Laura. Several hours later, she received the seal of approval from New York as she received thunderous applause after each song.
Like some of the “new school” of amazingly talented singers such as Adele, Emeli Sande, Lianne La Havas and Jessie Ware, Laura Mvula has quite a few slow songs that showcase her amazing voice and then when the pace picks up on the faster songs, the performance space turns into an impromptu dance party (see the upbeat “Green Garden” for example). We thought the encore would be final song of the night – a stripped down version of “Human Nature,” (yes, the Michael Jackson song!) but the crowd was not having any part of letting Laura Mvula end the show. Overwhelming applause brought Laura back for a second encore and performed a reprise of “She.” Her debut album “Sing to the Moon” is out now and if you liked any of the descriptions mentioned above, you’d be foolish not to get it.
See the setlist after the jump.