Album review: Moses Sumney’s ‘Grae’


Four stars

Moses Sumney Grae

On the opening track of Moses Sumney’s sophomore album, a voice repeats, “Isolation comes from insula, which means island,” as ambient sounds bubble and swell into a shimmering, mystical space. That track, “Insula,” sets the tone for Grae, a concept album Sumney describes as being about “grayness.” That is, to be simultaneously black and white, but, more importantly, neither. Released in two parts (Part 1 was released in February, and the full album dropped last month), Grae is a physical expression of the duality that lies at Sumney’s very core. “When I was a little boy/I’d scream at vague, misty nights/Yet breathe out smoke with no fire/I’d become one with what I was scared of/I fell in love with the in-between,” Sumney sings on “Neither/Nor.” The blistering “Me in 20 Years” finds him imagining what his life might look like someday. “And I wonder how I’ll sleep at night/With a cavity right by my side/And nothing left to hold but pride of mine.”

Throughout Grae, Sumney defies notions of normalcy, eschewing borders and binaries, genres and pigeonholes. The record blooms with light and color, a harmonious blanket of vocals, strings, saxophone and piano, seamlessly woven to highlight life’s complexities.

Tags: Music, Album
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