Establishing his position as the next up and coming artist to watch for, singer-songwriter Moses Sumney’s debut is a stunner and one of the year’s best.
Thanks to world renown singer and songwriter Solange, Moses has gained mass attention with his latest release from Jagjaguwar Records.
The record is packed with calm and cool tracks that showcase his unique falsetto vocals and cool acoustic riffs that can be heard on popular tracks like “Plastic.”
Sumney was born in San Bernardino, California but he moved with his family to Ghana when he was 10 years old. And it was only when Sumney moved back to California to attend UCLA that he taught himself to play guitar.
I first heard his music in 2015 when I discovered his 2014 EP Mid-City Island. It was one of those lo-fi gems that you find on Bandcamp. It sounded like folk music, but it was experimental in its approach.
His sound has been described as R&B, but I feel like this description did not fit his music. I would describe his music as being experimental folk/soul. He reminds me of experimental folk artists such as Joanna Newsman, Sufjan Stevens, or Jessica Pratt.
Some artists sign to a major label and totally change their sound, but Sumney does not fall into that trap and maintains his sound from his EP.
The production on Aromanticism sounds better from his earlier work, but not so much that he sounds completely different.
Listening to the album for the first time, I was blown away.
The second track, “Don’t Bother Calling,” is a highlight. Some of the elements that I like about it are the strings that creep out throughout the track creating tension, Summey’s fingerpicking guitar, and his voice which is layered, creating these beautiful haunting harmonies.
The album is interesting because it sounds intimate and fragile while other songs sound dramatic and big.
An example would be “Indulge Me,” which mostly just features his voice and guitar while there are other songs on the album that sound dramatic like the spoken-word song, “Stoicism,” and the album’s best track, “Quarrel,” which changes musically over the duration of the song.
Listening to the album, I kept thinking how these songs could be performed acoustically in a small coffee shop or a big concert hall with an orchestra.
I was also caught by surprise throughout the album with how some songs start off sounding sparse and then build
s into something much bigger like the track, “Lonely Word.”
Thematically I feel like the lyrics on the album were somewhat vague, but I really enjoyed that aspect. I am not a big fan of songs that are obvious because it doesn’t allow people to have their own interpretations of them.
The album’s title, which means a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others, says enough in my opinion to some of the things Sumney could be singing about.
If someone were to ask me about what type of genre you would place him, I would say he falls into a variety of genres and it’s unfair to put him in one rigid box.
On Aromanticism, he thrillingly bypasses strict genre terms and blends different elements of folk, electronic, and soul music to create one of the year’s most exciting and unconventional debuts.