By Xin-Rui Lee, Contributing Writer
He swaddled us into a warm, safe, bundle of “Plastic” back in 2014. Since then, Los Angeles singer-songwriter Moses Sumney has strung his fans along with a breadcrumb trail of well spaced EPs and singles.
Now a few months following the announcement of his signing to Jagjaguwar, he’s finally furnished us with his long awaited full-length debut album Aromanticism.
His music has a place within the realms of R&B, dips its toes into folk and indie, and melds into a thick molasses that delves into themes like death, love, and existentialist concerns. But rather than conveying despondence, he permits himself a palpable vulnerability within his lyrics that listeners can’t help but feel touched and perhaps even comforted by.
With great expectations, we caught Moses live (10/11) at the Music Hall of Williamsburg for his first headlining show in New York. His well-constructed image of gloomy depth made it unsurprising that the stage was set with 5 glowing orbs, arranged in an arch along the perimeters of the stage like a lunar cycle.
Opened for by the effervescent Xenia Rubinos, the Brooklyn-based Afro-Latina songstress proved to be one of those infrequent, truly exceptional opening acts. Rocking a pair of big glasses, a floor-length backless red dress, and an infectiously wide smile, she delivered an effortless one-woman show.
Arms flexed and tongue stuck out, she belted (and occasionally rapped) upbeat jazzy alt-pop into the microphone. Not only is her voice crisp and captivating, but so is her stage presence, appearing sincerely happy and at ease as though the entire audience was there for her alone.
Following Rubinos’ set, the sold-out crowd packed into the hall as Moses came on wearing a kimono-resembling ensemble in shades of grey and black. He opened with the track “Don’t Bother Calling” off Aromanticism, followed by “Indulge Me.” Brandishing a single gold-capped tooth, he maneuvered his gorgeous falsetto alongside the eerie screech of a saxophone.
He commented on the youth and beauty of his New York audience, then goes on to grip us with a hilariously delivered anecdote about being dropped off after a date in the suburbs. This served as a natural segue into “Make Out in my Car.”
His jovial banter didn’t quite align with his broody image, but it was thoroughly endearing and Moses was visibly eager to please. Though obviously relishing in the applause, he waved it off with feigned eye rolls and feeble flicks of his wrist. He put on a British accent as he introduced his harpist before performing “Doomed,” an odd and recurring feature of the evening.
His set went on to include a yet unreleased track “Rank and File,” a cover of Björk’s “Come To Me,” as well as several other tracks from Aromanticism. In the only way that could provide adequate closure for the evening, Moses ended with a jazzy rendition of “Man on The Moon”, finishing with a one man performance of “Plastic”.