Umi: The New Hope in Neo-Soul
BY NATALIE GUILLEN
Neo-soul has met a new pioneer in singer-songwriter, Umi, as she takes contemporary R&B by storm. The young artist gracefully follows in the footsteps of fellow genre-bending, melody masters like Jorja Smith and SZA.
Her release of over six singles in the last two years and a four-song EP, Interlude, which she blessed the world with in 2018, have proven her to be a consistent creator of modernly nostalgic R&B.
The Seattle-born, and now LA-based, songstress is breaking all kinds of ceilings at the young age of 19. From her impressive tracklist to her involvement in the creative direction of her music videos, Umi’s artful fearlessness is something fans can’t escape.
Perhaps her most distinctive musical trait is her ability to take on heavy topics while still sustaining a hopeful and youthful perspective. The nostalgia that bleeds through her music is reinforced and complemented by self-reflective lyrics and soulful beats.
In her latest single, “High School,” Umi reminisces about her past relationship and addresses her younger self’s naiveté in lines like: “I would tell you that I loved you so much but the problem is I didn’t even know what love was.”
The song speaks towards her universality, as so many of us fall into the trappings of young love despite a lack of understanding. Umi tells Coup De Main Magazine she wants “people to feel a sense of familiarity and comfort” in her music. “High School” does just that.
Similarly, “The Universe,” a song from Interlude, questions the meaning of life while reconciling the uncertainty of existence with gratitude in sweet lines such as “But I’m glad that I could live this life with you,” following verses that claim “We are nothing more than make-believe.” Listeners are sure to resonate with the underlying emphasis on love and acceptance.
The wide range of subject matter within her music demonstrates Umi’s versatility and ability to think and see beyond her age. Her intricate melodies and unique musicality complement the maturity of her lyrics and showcase what makes her stand out as an artist.
We can’t wait to hear what’s next!
Lead Image Credit: Schmenna / Instagram