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Laura Mvula: Tiny Desk Concert

Listen to Laura Mvula's terrific full-length debut, Sing to the Moon, and you'll hear soulful pop music in Technicolor. The U.K. singer's sonic ambition is boundless: Her intricately layered songs straddle genres, locations and eras in ways that sound entirely original.

Squeezing that sound behind Bob Boilen's desk is no tiny task, as she acknowledges partway through this three-song set in the NPR Music offices. Mvula faces the challenge by seizing an opportunity to showcase her most intimate material; with the help of a small string section, she forgoes some of her flashier songs ("Like the Morning Dew," "Green Garden") in favor of Sing to the Moon's most brooding ballads.

The result shines a spotlight squarely on Mvula's lovely voice and elegant songwriting — both of which are sturdy enough to withstand being stripped of accoutrements. Soak up this performance, then treat yourself to Sing to the Moon if you haven't already. It's one of the best debut albums in a year full of great ones.

Set List

  • "Father, Father"
  • "Diamonds"
  • "She"
  • Credits

    Producer: Bob Boilen; Editor: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo, Marie McGrory; photo by Marie McGrory/NPR

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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