A powerful and probing collection of songs...

In a closing collection of songs, Moses Sumney debuts the second instalment of his poetically engineered double album 'græ'.

Sumney’s versatile voice washes the latter half of the record portraying a delicate vision of the ambiguities and complexities surrounding self-identity. ‘Two Dogs’ greets us with hushed bass lines, multi-layered vocals, and a track which ponders morality in startling beauty. ‘Bystanders’ leans further into Sumney’s elegantly paced artistry, effortlessly pushing spoken word against pleasing composition. If anything, the song lends itself as a cautionary tale exploring the conflict of self and unrestrained self-expression: “What’s the use of confessing the truth / To an executioner in a booth?”

‘Me In 20 Years’ is a cosmic compilation of emotional vulnerability and aching solitude set against a twinkling orchestral instrumentation and hypnotic falsettos; it’s a song that begs to be replayed. Unravelling in a moment of absolute loneliness, Sumney unsurprisingly latches onto this pain, singing “Have I become the cavity I feared / Ask me in twenty years.” Next, ‘Keeps Me Alive’ steeps in Sumney’s vocal fluidity as his range effortlessly slips between highs and lows to soft acoustic guitar jazz. It’s utterly captivating.

‘Lucky Me’ offers a return to Sumney’s crescendo-ing falsetto which, in this song, sits edged between rhythmic electronic beats and deeply personal lines: “I have working hands and working feet / And a waking memory of you and me.” Part two of 'græ' maintains its creative integrity by artfully packing in faultless moments of genre elasticity alongside lyrics which eagerly tackle the ambiguous complexities of Sumney’s life.

This closing suite of songs concludes with a swirling mixture of gentle instrumentation and sampled spoken word to seamlessly bridge the intricate patchwork identity of græ. ‘before you go’ is a theatrical art rock finale layering vocals sampled from Nigerian-Ghanaian author Taiye Selas, actor Ezra Miller, and Ghanaian British poet and playwright Michaela Coel against a tide of strings and Sumney’s sombre background harmonies. It’s a creatively considered ending to an emotionally ambitious 20-track built on pain, vulnerability and self-identity.

8/10

Words: Zoya Raza-Sheikh

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