Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Laura Mvula ft. Nile Rodgers – Overcome

We like it, but we can’t agree if it’s because or despite Mr Rodgers…


Cassy Gress: The thing that has always set Laura Mvula apart is the almost discordant pipe-organ effect of her harmonies, which she deploys to great effect here, and it’s gorgeous when they resolve into the major at the end of each chorus. But she can barely hit that low D, and the resulting breathiness is a little out of place; probably it would have worked better in her range if the whole thing was a half-step up or two. The note is much more effective when she doesn’t bother with it (particularly in conjunction with that bulging bass note that hits on the last syllable of “with the world upon your shoulder”). Why is Nile Rodgers here though? I could barely hear him the first time I listened to this, as she triumphantly drowned him out the whole way through. Is he responsible for the minimalist riff through the verses too, or just his trademark guitar scratching through the chorus? This (and a lot of Mvula stuff) reminds me of medieval chant, or madrigals, or something, and that’s not 100% right, but maybe it’s less about the genre and more the simple sort of holiness.

Anthony Easton: How she sings “down” and “sky,” that sinious bass line, and how it breaks open so quickly, it is such a wonderful example of late Rodgers production, one is slightly disappointed it didn’t work out for twice or three times the length. 

Alfred Soto: On first listen it sounds underwritten, with thinly mixed choral chants that suggest Animal Collective and Nile Rodgers’ co-billing stronger than his rhythm guitar. Further listens reveal the precision with which the Birmingham singer extends melodies just so: “Overcome” is a prayer that looks to the sky without imagining any god except what two people making sounds can do. It also reminds me that Rodgers hasn’t appeared in any faintly non-pop track in years

Edward Okulicz: Good presence, good song, overly fussy “funky” production. It’s the last minute that works, where the subtlety manufactures its own euphoria, letting Mvula’s triumph breathe and feel real. The first two minutes sound like her joy is being suffocated in a paper bag, though.

Iain Mew: Laura Mvula carries on pretty much where she left off, balancing calming and confounding with a winning ease. All the best moments are the ones where the ill-fitting funk guitar gets out of the way, though.

Jonathan Bogart: A Mr. Mister reference! Followed up a verse later by “take your broken feet and run.” But despite Mvula’s commanding voice, it’s Rodgers’ twitchy guitar rhythms that really tell your feet what to do. A magnificent dance-pop single, a magnificent civil-rights anthem, and a magnificent return to the spotlight for the ever-more-impressive Laura Mvula, who deserves to be at least as beloved as Janelle Monáe. One point withheld for brevity; if ever there was a song crying out for a twelve-inch mix.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: Oh man, that angelical, psychedelic, unabashedly funky crescendo is a House remix gold mine. Quite suitable for those DJ days when you want a smooth transition into P-Funk or Fela. 

Thomas Inskeep: Nowhere near as funky as it wants to be, or thinks it is.

Brad Shoup: I listened to this a half-dozen times at work… it was so grating I could barely write a SQL statement. (That’s not fair: I’m terrible at SQL statements.) Once I gave it my full attention though, Mvula’s choral approach was transporting; it feels sacred in the same way holiday music does. Rodgers’ fattened chicken scratch is the right element here: a symphonic tone poem like this calls for trance more than dance. 

Katherine St Asaph: I’ve listened to enough mandatory fake Nile in the past three years that hearing the real thing on a song has come all the way back around to a fucking relief. Mvula’s also abandoned her polite Radio 2 artpop for something more layered, almost medieval; the result’s as if someone rebooted the concept of classical crossover to back around the 1970s. I wouldn’t have ended the arrangement with a near-rondo, but we’re now just getting into artistic quibbles.

Will Adams: I wish the final minute stretched on four times as long. The preceding two-thirds are buttoned-up disco, fine to listen to, but suddenly, the cords unravel into endless flowing threads, Mvula amasses a chorus behind her, and a beautiful lyric, “‘Round the mountain all God’s children run,” swirls around like cream in coffee.

Micha Cavaseno: You know, in the spell of commercial revival Nile Rodgers has been given access to and working with, I’ve been waiting for a song that actually shows an eagerness to progress and make something just as substantial as his Chic-work, but with something new to the table. The hybrid of EDM, afrobeat and disco was not entirely what I was hoping for, or that I could even imagine, but am I affronted by this offer? No, not at all.

Reader average: [7.87] (8 votes)

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6 Responses to “Laura Mvula ft. Nile Rodgers – Overcome”

  1. this is stunning


  3. Great screenshot, too.

  4. the first time i hit pause i was like yeah that’s the one

  5. I was extremely underwhelmed when I listened to this after it dropped but it looks like I need to revisit it.

  6. @my finally comment; Didn’t realize that there was 1 other 7 before this.
    Though I really don’t like this song as much as I want to. Too crowded.

    I like this Overcome more.