British singer-songwriter Laura Mvula, whose musical genius is inarguable, is in a boat similar to the one Missy Elliot found herself in almost twenty years ago. Though her music videos were innovative from the start (and consistently), it took a long time for Missy to get serious critical props for being as much a visual artist as a music phenomenon. She wasn’t just churning out sonically left-of-center hits. She was constructing a world in which each video was a plank, and the endpoint was a place where dark-skinned chubby black women were sexual, smart, funny, and visionary, as unabashedly ‘hood as they were Afrofuturist. Likewise, Mvula’s videos have built (and are steadily building) a world in which the exploration of black female subjectivity and interiority is nuanced and powerful, a pointed and poetic counterpoint to mainstream depictions and ideas of black women – particularly dark-skinned black women.
“Show Me Love,” the third single from her forthcoming sophomore album, The Dreaming Room, is stark and confessional. In both her songwriting and performing, Mvula has an otherworldly sense of the power of quiet and stillness. The song itself is one of heartbreak, a post-breakup lament in which she mourns the loss of a life-redefining love, and knows that the void left behind can never be filled. The track carries within it what may be Mvula’s signature as an artist: an intimacy as warm as a breath on your cheek.
Director Damian Weiler follows Mvula’s lead, crafting a clip that slowly reveals its narrative. It’s beautiful and ambiguous and sobering, full of images that would easily work as powerful standalone stills. The ending is unexpected, but once it happens you’ll realize there were clues all along – just like when a love affair collapses.