“People always look to define you, to understand you, but my identity is this kind of patchwork. It’s not something that can be defined.” – Moses Sumney.
Nothing is straightforward about Moses Sumney’s intimate double album græ, and Part 2 sees Sumney return in full force with his message amplified and full bodied. In December 2019, the American songwriter first announced the project and its unconventional release format. He then unveiled several tracks leading up to Part 1‘s release in February with Part 2 arriving only this week.
Since the release of græ: Part 1, the developments surrounding the current global pandemic contributes a sense of irony and relevancy towards one of the project’s overarching themes; isolation.
Any attempts to categorise græ is difficult as it exists so pointedly beyond the confines of genre. Though the album is linked thematically, each song explores a different niche, testing Sumney sonically. There are spoken-word segments that allow the record to breathe, diluting its density which can, at times, be overwhelming.
The album bursts into life with Cut Me, a withering, soulful track that serves as a vocal tribute to the late, great Aretha Franklin. Lyrically, Sumney discusses masochism and his relationship to pain in love. But the song is driven by its instrumental composition, with arrangements of horn, bass, synth and keys a brilliant addition from English experimental rock outfit Adult Jazz.
The album concludes with the slow-burning, dream-pop track, Bless Me. The song reflects the same self-deprecating lyrics in Cut Me, generating a symmetry that stabilises the album’s overall tone.
While Part 1 was a raw and chaotic orchestration, græ: Part 2 evokes something close to peace for Sumney. This second instalment is more focused, making it a refined conclusion to Moses’ sprawling musical novella.
The album is an honest, vulnerable and ambitious piece of work that celebrates the unusual, the uncomfortable and the undefined. græ is an extension of Sumney himself. It is full of possibility and scope and bigger than anything we have heard from him yet.