Reviewed by Ian Phillips.
By Laura Mvula, Atlantic Records/Warner Music Group 2021.
Laura Mvula is a jazz and gospel/soul singer, songwriter, and composer from Birmingham England who was classically trained at the Royal Birmingham Conservatorie, majoring in composition.
She released her first album, Sing to the Moon, in 2013 and it climbed to number nine in the UK charts and made the Top 100 in many other countries.
In 2015 her song You Work For Me was picked up by director Guy Ritchie to be part of the soundtrack for The Man From U.N.C.L.E movie and the song was used in the film trailer in the US.
It was her 2016 album The Dreaming Room that really cemented her position as ‘one to watch’.
It received universal acclaim and won her the Ivor Novello Award.
It was particularly praised for the way she had delved into her Jamaican and Caribbean roots to deal with some of the issues confronting her, and the world, at the time.
The Dreaming Room is a more political album than her earlier work with the song Phenomenal Woman being a feminist hymn inspired by the book of the same title written by African American writer and activist Maya Angelou.
Pink Noise is another departure for her as she delves into ‘80s disco dance beats to underpin her lush melodies and the album is less overtly political, but possibly more emotional, than The Dreaming Room.
It’s an album from an artist who seems more at peace with herself and the world and this has been picked up by many in the music press.
Entertainment Weekly said, “Pink Noise revels in the freedom of moving beyond stress for something peaceful, adding yet another layer to Mvula’s already rich sound.”
AllMusic stated, “It’s a wounded if proud and defiant response that draws from vintage high-tech R&B and art-pop … the 1982 – 1987 era with the greatest frequency, with all sharp edges melted off.”
I suppose I differ from most critics in my response to Pink Noise.
While I liked the album, I found myself comparing it to The Dreaming Room with its edges and hankering for the earlier work.
I think that sometimes artists can be a little too conservative. To my taste too many edges had been “melted off”.