UMI - Introspection EP // The New Queen of R&B
I first stumbled upon UMI’s music only a few months ago and her sound always resonated with me in a way I did not expect. As a music lover and consumer, Indie Rock/Pop has always been my home, or rather admittedly, my comfort zone. This young artist pulled me right into a realm of music that echoes the feeling of healing and clarity. UMI’s music is soulful and sonic, decadent, and soothing. Everything R & B is and should be. It encouraged me to listen and experience music in a way I was not entirely used to. Her 2018 single “Remember Me” came up on my recommended tracks at the exact time that I needed it and I recall feeling so comforted by the sounds, the lyrics, and the overall atmosphere. Because of this, I was already in her grasp when she released her fourth EP “Introspection” at the young age of 21. I was thoroughly impressed by this record and after several listens, I believe I’m ready to really dig into each track.
Track number one is the title track, “Introspection.” It immediately opens up a clear and tranquil space for the listener to do exactly that which the title describesㅡlook within. The song feels like it is interacting with you and commanding your attention, as the synth glides back and forth from ear to ear. Every detail in this song seems to have such a purpose. It’s soothing but at the same time groovy, making it almost impossible not to move your body while listening. “Introspection” was a strong start to the EP, feeling as though it is building up your anticipation to hear what is to come.
Next up is the song “Open Up” which begins with the simplicity of an acoustic guitar. The beat proceeds to kick in like a jolt through the body, however, UMI’s vocals are calming like silk, creating that perfect balance. “Open Up” is raw yet refined and polished at the same time. It’s a fun song without a superficial topic or simple lyrics. In the song, UMI discusses the struggles surrounding opening up to another person. She expresses a certain level of self-awareness and accountability by admitting her need to be vulnerable. The very feel of this song paired with the lyrics is what makes it as captivating as it is.
“Where I Wander” leads us into a slightly darker ambiance than the previous two tracks. It slowly builds up to a feeling that I can only describe as empowerment. Lyrics such as, “No need to keep fighting what you're dealt / You must take precaution in this hell / You were given options where to sail so” give me a bigger sense of ambiguity in this song. It’s definitely the most badass one so far, I’d say.
As “Bet” follows, I felt the lingering power of the previous song transfer into the guitar riff paired with the pulsating beat pervading the song. The bass just hits different on this track for me. The lyrics have more of a contemporary feel, emphasizing UMI’s youth and reinforcing her already present relatability. The sound itself radiates maturity but still has the capacity to reach and resonate with the everyday youthful listener. UMI accomplishes something that most artists struggle withㅡshe stands out with her talents while still maintaining a harmonious relationship with fans and listeners through her charming relatability. I think this song is a wonderful showcase of that.
“Pretty Girl hi!” might just be my favorite track on this EP. It contains a contagious flow that is complex yet effortless at the same time. It begins with a playful and dreamlike synth sound that is ethereal and whimsical. The sound alone embodies strong feminine energy with its fairylike qualities. Her vocals are sultry and expansive, coating over the beat flawlessly. “Pretty Girl hi!” strikes me as a song to play on a summer afternoon, preferably at a picnic while eating strawberries. (Was that too specific?)
“Broken Bottle” begins with tender and hypnotic piano, nearly setting itself up to be a ballad. However, the song quickly takes flight and introduces a beat that feels as though it is moving through your whole body. The first line is instantly gripping as she sings, “Love doesn’t grow in the middle of the garden.” It creates such a stirring visual and sets the tone for the remainder of the song. It has the perfect amount of everything, as the lush harmonies weave through the glittering synths with a seductive undertone. With lush harmonies and poignant lyrics, this track is purely intoxicating as well as mesmerizing. “Broken Bottle” encapsulated the spirit of every song preceding it and formed a seamless summation of the entire EP.
UMI’s “Introspection” exceeded all my expectations. Every song feels as though it is surrounding you in your bedroom like a comforting hug. Yet at the same time, it creates a certain yearning to hear them spread out as big and as bold as they can be in a large concert hall (Thanks Coronavirus for canceling every show ever). These songs are something to get lost in, something to use as tools to heal, and a permission slip to simply let loose. With this EP, UMI welcomes us into a space that feels almost heavenly, giving us as listeners a chance to grow alongside her as she invites us to join her in taking our own look within ourselves.