Listening to Laura Mvula is a powerful and intensely personal experience. The British soul singer’s voice is raw with emotion and vulnerability, inspiring listeners to reach inside, question what’s there and embrace what they find.
Her performance at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Chinatown last week was no less than moving. I sat in the audience wondering how Mvula could possibly communicate her inner experience so poignantly – and identify with mine as well. Mvula has a curiously melded style that heightens this emotional connection. Her songs are reminiscent of soulful R&B tunes mixed with jazz and classical, offering a diverse musical and emotional experience.
“Show Me Love” is the epitome of her creatively mixed – and highly expressive – style. Mvula uses strings, vibraphone, guitar and celeste to create a sound that is both ambient and soulful. Maybe it was the song’s intimate atmosphere, or its mournful tone, but her performance moved me in a profound and deeply personal way.
And you showed me love of the deepest kind
And I will never find another love like you
Showed me love
And now I see
Her chorus echoes enormous heartbreak and longing – feelings we can all identify with on varying levels. The sound is about loss, regret and uninhibited musical expression. “Show Me Love” isn’t something you just listen to. It’s an artistic experience that you feel, through and through.
I know I’m not alone in my sentiment. As I observed the audience during Mvula’s performance, it was clear she moved them deeply too. Every set of eyes was transfixed on her throughout the concert. The atmosphere in the hall was almost prayer-like at times, meditative and thick with human emotion.
Her stage presence – sometimes serious, sometimes humorous, but always authentic – only heightens her appeal. Throughout the concert, she continuously addressed the audience, sharing personal anecdotes that further connected her to listeners.
“Last time I performed ‘Show Me Love,’ I lost it – and I don’t mean one single sexy tear,” Mvula joked onstage. “I mean a nasty, hot mess where I’m just all over the place.”
It’s this fearless honesty and wit that humanizes her. Mvula isn’t afraid to be wholly who she is, and laugh at herself for it too. She encourages us all to face ourselves and own what we discover.
If you haven’t seen Laura Mvula live, do it ASAP. She’ll leave you feeling contemplative, connected and fulfilled – something every music lover needs to experience.
Learn more about Laura Mvula and her upcoming performances here.
Read more about Sixth and I’s performance schedule here.