Thursday, December 6, 2012

I like to Mvula, Mvula*

The Brits announced their Critics' Choice shortlist this morning - with Discopop heroes AlunaGeorge sitting at the top... Alphabetically, at least. The actual winner doesn't get announced until 20 December, and they will join the likes of Emeli Sande, Adele and Jessie J in collecting a big trophy for a record they have yet to release. The modern world, eh?

AlunaGeorge's competition comes from floppy-fringed balladeer Tom Odell, and 26-year-old Laura Mvula who, I have to admit, had totally passed me by until today.

Formally trained in composition at the Birmingham Conservatoire, Laura later worked (as a receptionist) for the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. She is now signed to RCA where she is being fast-tracked as a "priority act" for 2013.

In a year with no shortage of female singer-songwriters, she stands apart from the crowd by putting those years of classical training to good use. Her songs have a choral feel - with complex, layered harmonies breathing new life into well-worn soul sounds. Over the top comes Laura's voice, all smoky and resonant, lagging behind the beat like a modern Billie Holiday.

Apparently, she's already been Fearne Cotton's "Big Thing", so I'm hardly racing ahead of the pack here. But if you're new to Laura, too, here are two of the tracks she's released so far. I can't recommend them highly enough.

Laura Mvuala - She

* Sorry

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