Bonnaroo Artist Focus: Moses Sumney

Photo courtesy of Jan-Willem Dikkers

With Bonnaroo tickets on sale and the Manchester festival’s June 7-10 dates around the corner, it might be a little daunting trying to decide which of the 100+ artists will give you the most bang for your buck. In this column, we’ll focus on a different artist every week to give you a sense of who they are and who will be worth checking out once summer rolls around.

Last year was one that exposed Moses Sumney to the world stage with the release of his debut album, “Aromanticism.” The record was hailed by many as a comforting, meditative work of musical art that wallowed through topics of abandoning love and intimacy in an increasingly superficial culture, but ironically provided one of the most sentimental works of the year.

“Aromanticism” also demonstrated that musicianship is a trait that carries a presence in every aspect of Sumney’s art. In the album, the singer-songwriter poises himself to deliver precise, tender of verses over his understated orchestrations. As warm string arrangements swell in and out, Sumney’s delicate falsetto voice remains the central focus of each song. Just as the eye is immediately drawn to the subject in the foreground of a painting, Sumney can string along listeners’ attentions with his expressive lines of ardency and devotion. And as a painting’s background serves to support its subject, the euphoric instrumentals that are blended together with subtlety serve as the singer’s beautiful foundation.

One of the highlights of Sumney’s discography is “Doomed,” a song that features so few musical elements that it paints the singer at his most vulnerable and therefore most evocative. And while the majority of songs under his name make use of this fragile, whisper-like space, there comes like songs like “Lonely World” that build the musician up to climactic, densely produced moments of triumph that listeners can’t help but admire.

It will certainly be interesting to see how Moses Sumney’s carefully crafted compositions and heavily layered vocal textures will translate to the festival atmosphere, but his performance will most certainly provide for an expressive, if not breathtaking display of artistic propensity.

Watch Moses Sumney’s reflective video for “Doomed” below.

Tickets and information can be found on the Bonnaroo website.

To contact Music Editor Hayden Goodridge, email

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