“It started with a melody. Sometimes I hear overlapping vocal melodies and harmonies in my head, and need a way to bring them to life. That’s why I started looping. So the most important part of that song, to me, is the moving melody. The lyrics kind of just came naturally. I tried to write a song that, instead of the typical “you’re-no-good” break-up song, gives perspective into the psychological trauma that causes us to treat people like they’re expendable, and how those are cyclical behaviors.” – Moses Sumney
Certain voices have the capacity to cut through all the noise and fluff, as arresting one moment as they are warm the next. Raw though these voices might be at times, their edge creates a sort of aural soft focus that hints at certain notes or phrasings coming from a place of pure emotion rather than training alone.
To hear Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Moses Sumney is to be almost immediately captured by his singing, his voice a breathing instrument that suggests a depth of feeling lyrics can only partially express. Sumney has emerged in the past two months as an artist to watch, riding the wave of something fittingly old-school: Buzz based on live performances. The one-take video for “Replaceable” showcases his torrential energy and striking voice–made all the more mesmerizing by his creative use of loop pedals (as explained in the quote above) to weave an enchanting web of melodies and percussive sounds.
To accompany his vocal invention and unique tone, Sumney possesses a particular gift for incisive songwriting. On “Dwell in the Dark,” his words are intimate and conversational. Though deeply personal, they invite the listener into the singer’s close confidence rather than projecting a sense of exclusivity; their resonance blossoms from Sumney’s clear, strong connection to the song’s second party–even if the subject of his lyrics isn’t made plain.
While Sumney is still growing as an artist and experimenting with the boundaries of his sound (“Dwell” showcases his folkier side, while his cover of James Blake’s “Lindisfarne” suggests the current influences that lurk at the corners of his style), his modest online catalog and scant few live videos are more than enough evidence to suggest that the young singer is at the beginning of a promising journey.