British Soulstress, Laura Mvula has had a hell of a career ever since releasing her debut studio album, Sing To The Moon, by getting a top 10 hit, winning a plethora of Awards, such as the prestigious MOBO Award, and touring with the eternal Prince. But all wasn’t as great as it may have seemed, despite her successes she also faced a lot of personal turmoil. Mvula does her best to focus her magic into crafting one of the most harmonic albums of the year with, The Dreaming Room, her first album in three years.
The album features primary production by Mvula with Troy Miller and members of The London Symphony Orchestra, who worked on the orchestral version of her debut album Sing To The Moon. During the success of her debut Mvula suffered from anxiety and depression which she had since she was about 19 but with the success of her career overwhelmed her and put her in a dark place. As a result of these panic attacks, Mvula’s marriage to her husband suffered tremendously leading the couple to eventually part ways.
The Dreaming Room is a collection of about a dozen tracks with a runtime the runs a little over a half an hour. Opening the record is the enchanting intro track “Who I am” which features the singer’s voice perfectly over a stripped track before segueing into the album’s lead single, the Nile Rodgers-assisted, “Overcome”. The track perfectly sets the overall mood of the album with Rodgers’signature rhythm guitar adding flavor and energy to the symphonic strings that are featured on the song. The songs lyrical content is about overcoming fears and doubts of self, with my personal favorite lyric “Run the mountain all God’s Children”. The next couple of tracks “Bread” and “Lucky Man” are very laid back in terms of music but the lyrics seem to speak on her marital issues and showcase a very somber vocal performance.
The pace picks back up with the song “Let Me Fall”, reminscent of a 1970’s Stevie Wonder record, this track is one ultimate groove. The lyrical content speaks on being let free and learning from mistakes with the lyrics like “No looking back when hope is pushing forward” seems to follow up with the themes earlier seen in “Overcome”. The next track “Kiss My Feet” opens with the heartaching lyrics “I got losing on my mind”, about trying to overcome obstacles but everything is falling apart, some of the songs lyrical content seems to be the darkest yet matching the haunting accompaniment of the orchestra, here is where the album starts to sound like a journey.
‘When your heart is broken down, down, down
And your head don’t reach the sky
Take your broken wings and fly’
“Show Me Love“, sees Mvula begging God to show her love of the deepest kind, described as the first song to speak on her spiritual relationship with God, you can hear the classical training in her voice that makes her one of the biggest standouts in music today. The Orchestra’s accompaniment beautifully marries with her voice to give a knockout performance despite the music’s minimal mood. songs ‘Renaissance Moon’ acts as a segue from the previous before going into the track “Angel” which is features a cool acapella of the singer harmonizing with herself, while we see her team up with rapper and fellow Englishman, Wretch 32 on the cut “People” which could be her equivalent to Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar’s “Freedom”.
Before the album closes out, we get a snapshot of Laura’s background with an adoreable chat with her Nan on the interlude of the same name, this is a welcomed addition to the album because the album’s closer is the track “Phenomenal Woman” which was inspired by her Grandmother and the Maya Angelou poem of the same name. Phenomenal is a nice upbeat tune celebrating womanhood and strength despite all the bad that has happened inb her life.
Overall, this album can be a bit slow paced at times with its production but it makes up for it with electrifying uptempos and beautiful vocal performance. This album deserves to be a contender for album of the year at next year’s award season, inspite of its lack of commercial popularity that other who have half the talent, Laura Mvula proves with this release she’s a bonafide powerhouse who doesn’t plan on quitting anytime soon.