Review: The Music of Moses Sumney

If anyone were to ask me to name the artists I resonate with the most, my list would comprise of a variety of genres from Gospel to Jazz to Classical to Hip-Hop, R&B, Country, Neo-Soul, Rock, Alternative, and more. I grew up around and singing mostly gospel music. The other genres sneaked their way in over the years.

In the past three to five years, there are some artists who I have been listening to much more than others. Something about the tones of their voices, the stylistic choices they make with their singing, their lyrics, and authentically original sounds have made them favorites. Moses Sumney is one of those people.

Although I’d heard of Moses Sumney before, seeing a video of him on the great platform that is NPR Tiny Desk Concerts gave me the opportunity to get a sense of him and his artistry in real time. There was no demand to meet production value, tell cryptic stories like in music videos, and the footage was clear, close, consistent, and just the artist. Clearly, I approve of the opportunity to meet, deepen admiration, and gain an understanding of new/already familiar artists.

But Moses just stands out. His fashion style, hair, and the brilliantly captivating tone, control, and technique crafted into his voice create a sound that makes him unforgettable. His 2017 album, Aromanticism, is a great introduction to him. A title like that paired with the cover art of the album is enough to make you wonder. Moses describes the album as, “a concept album about lovelessness as a sonic dreamscape.”

Starting with the intro Man on the Moon, a chorus consisting only of “Ahhh’s” blending in harmony give the listener a little more than 30 seconds to begin to guess the direction this album is going in before a kind of distorted deep voice starts singing, “Don’t bother calling, I’ll call you" on Track 2 Don’t Bother Calling. Right away we know we’d better pay attention. Each song thereafter takes us deeper into this dreamscape until Moses sets us free with a Self-Help Tape, the last song on the album.

This album, and I’d go as far as to say all of his music, is categorized under the Alternative genre and it’s befitting. Moses’ artistic persona, music, and presence carries the Alternative aura. The album is a confirmation as it discusses a-romanticism. Which when we compare it to music discussing relationships and intimacy, even outside of music into society’s normalization categories, a-romanticism along with asexuality aren’t in the discussion.

Here comes Moses, not jarringly or abruptly, but still somewhat politically discussing this concept. You can experience love platonically, and sexually, without romance.

I’ll be listening to Moses and this album for years to come and I invite you to join me.