Three years after her impressive debut Sing To The Moon, UK singer-songwriter Laura Mvula returns with a stellar sophomore album, titled The Dreaming Room. Everything about this album, infused with and inspired by personal experiences, delivers a message about coming together in spite of adversity both on a personal level and as a community.

‘The Dreaming Room’ by Laura Mvula Album Review

The new record tones down the soulful elements and is, therefore, even more experimental in its sublime choral harmonies, adding electronic elements to highlight and bring out the vocals. Nevertheless, at the album’s core is the kind of soulful pop Mvula outlines with her genre-defining debut. The classically trained singer is joined by drummer and producer Troy Miller as well as guitarists Nile Rogers and John Scofield and The London Symphony Orchestra.

“Kiss My Feet,” for example, stands out with a grand amalgamation of sounds. A music box-like tune leads the way, but is eventually lost under the uplifting orchestration – stirring yet subtle string section and faint drums solidify the atmospheric quality of the track, while the repetitive lyrics give it a haunting quality. “Show Me Love” starts off as a heartfelt piano-driven ballad about the absence of a lover, which expands to include a full orchestra over a span of 6 minutes. The vivid vocal harmonies are the primary means of relating meaning and emotion, which after a cinematic peak subside once more.

Towards the album’s conclusion, we get a couple of tracks that carry a more universal message of empowerment. “People” is one of the essential songs on the record, which moves beyond the individual experience and highlights the communal struggles. Wretch 32 gets an impressive rap cameo, which gains epic dimensions as he battles for space on the soundscape amidst harmonic layers and a thudding beat. Finally, closer “Phenomenal Woman,” which is inspired by a Maya Angelou poem, can easily be embraced as a feminist anthem geared towards the dancefloor.

The Dreaming Room takes a step towards electro-pop experimentation, but it doesn’t betray the classical orchestration that makes the Laura Mvula sound unique. The singer is more flexible her vocal abilities more here, showcasing a versatile range and intonation. All of this makes for an ecstatic and dramatic kind of rhythmic music, which she has dubbed “gospel-delia,” as Mvula continues to shape, bridge and redefine modern genres into the 21st century.

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