The best albums of 2020, No 10: Moses Sumney – Græ

Moses Sumney’s music is often two things at once. Intimate yet communal, spiritual yet lustful, his piercingly clear falsetto is interchangeable with a full-throated roar – it all speaks of the tension between the mind and the body, feeling and identity.

The American songwriter’s delicate first album, Aromanticism (2017), was full of whispered yearning for emotional connection. Its follow-up is more mercurial. As with the fused diphthong of its title, Græ’s two parts, released in February and May, communicate an “inherent multiplicity”, as the author Taiye Selasi says on the track Also Also Also And And And.

From the playful oppositions of its track titles – Jill/Jack, Neither/Nor – to Sumney’s genre-splicing of R&B, folk, jazz and ambient electronics, Sumney’s moods swing and sway. Cut Me pairs rumbling synth bass with an infectious top-line melody, and his lyrics about wanting things that cause him pain capture an occasional paradox of desire. Virile is a distortion-fuelled rallying cry against masculine stereotypes, with Sumney ironically toasting “cheers to the patriarchy”. The languorous Two Dogs is a seemingly irreverent ballad concerning the song’s opening lines: “I had two dogs / In the summer of 2004.”

Read the essay in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 07/12/20]