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How can songs make us cry in a matter of three minutes? Andrew Peterson has investigated this question many times. If you’re interested in investigating it further, here’s a case study for you: “She” by Laura Mvula.
Mvula is a British songwriter with both an ear for sophisticated composition and a heart for simplicity. Her songs are thickly layered with inviting textures and adventurous melodies, yet they give off an air of sparseness, reminding us that not all space is meant to be filled.
“She” is the first full song Mvula ever wrote, a fact that I feel is nothing short of downright silly in the face of its honest to God magnificence. The song chronicles the story of a young girl traversing the major events of life, including a major death in the family, falling in love, and having her own child.
The music video is a work of art on its own. Its aesthetic reminds me of the film Tree of Life with its proclivity towards a sort of speechless symbolism. The one-shot style of the video lets the viewer be a fly on the wall, beholding the cyclical, recurrent events of life almost from the bird’s-eye perspective of time itself. The veil between Mvula’s world and the viewer’s own is paper thin, perhaps to remind us that in a very real sense, the distinction between the two is not so real as we think.
Above all else, the pleasure of this song and its accompanying video is that, in the simple fact of their existence, they encourage me to notice the tremendous amount of invisible effort that was put into their every detail. “She” is a masterful work beckoning me to listen, not for lack of listeners, but for the abundance of the gift it has to give.
And maybe that’s the reason these three glorious minutes draw tears from my eyes: in their beckoning, I remember that the ordinary time of my daily life beckons as well, urging me to listen to the master work of the One who holds time and its many lives and deaths in the palm of his hand.
That’s enough of me rambling. Watch and listen, and I hope this song can be an anchor of gratitude in your day as it has been to me many, many times.