Born in California to Ghanaian parents, Moses Sumney is all about a collision of worlds: He smashes genres together (soul, pop, folk, classical), collaborates frequently (with the likes of Solange, Bon Iver and Beck) and tackles broad and ambitious themes of identity and the origins of humanity.
In 2017, he stole the attention of many music lovers and critics with his debut album, Aromanticism, which explores notions of longing and coexistence, and our modern construct of romance. The album basically imagines the meaning of life in the absence of love.
Sumney wields his voice to let listeners into his mind. It’s a soulful voice dipping into the register of a whisper to turn intimacy into an option. He threads Aromanticism with choir-inspired vocal layering, an effect which is translucent, heart-rending and ethereal.
Now, he’s gearing up for his second album. His new album will actually be two albums with a shared title. He calls it grae (phonetical spelling for grey), full of songs about grey areas and in-between spaces. He already has some tunes out, “Cut Me” being one of them. His experiments with familiar soul and R&B elements create a sound that seems like it wraps around from 1962 to the distant future.
Moses Sumney’s blend of electro-soul, bare-bones folk and groove-driven minimalism never fails to impress live. He performs in different constellations. He has played solo, just himself with a guitar and a loop pedal (he can still build a world of sound), and with a three-piece band. You will be treated with the band version when he plays Roskilde Festival. And with two albums out full of new music there will be plenty of opportunities to wallow in Moses Sumney’s torment. Don’t worry, though, it will probably help you manage that of your own. His melodramatic music and that incredible voice of his will most likely make your jaw drop a couple of times (try his lovelorn new ballad “Me in 20 Years” on for size and imagine it played live).