When the topic of today's everchanging, dynamic genre of R&B is discussed, UMI is a name that absolutely should be thrown into the mix. The 24-year-old, American-Japanese singer is back with a brand new EP entitled, "talking to the wind." When it comes to UMI, her music is a gateway to healing, freedom, individuality, and safety. Not only does she use her music to essentially escape the pressures of the real world, but she creates compelling relatable bodies of art that fill listeners' souls with hope and joy even when the outside does not match.
There's power, purity, and innocence that dwell in her angelic voice even as she sings about the very lows that life can try to put us through.
Released Friday (Jan. 19), talking to the wind consists of only 4 songs and runs for 10 minutes (the only bummer here). The project's opener and EP's second single, "why don't we go," is a safe space. Released in November, the track is a breath of fresh air. Upbeat, lighthearted, and playful, UMI sings about not only falling in love with someone but living life without any pressure, living in the moment, and enjoying your youth.
On the the EP's second track and lead single, "happy im," UMI opens up about being afraid of love, not having the property clarity of self to understand her feelings, but taking the time necessary to grow and appreciate the very love that she adores. While the single was released in August of last year, it fits perfectly with the timing of UMI's release as the beginning of the year is always meant to be set anew and rejuvenating. "Happy im" is the embodiment of that. Despite the fear, there's still a willingness to risk it and go for love. Something about this year feels much like that. Even if you have to do something afraid, just do it.
The VRon-produced "not necessarily" finds UMI in a more adoring space. She acknowledges that her partner has "the best" of her. It's heartfelt, soft, and warm. It's a bit of a back-and-forth as she begins the song by saying, "She said, "Am I in the mood?"/No, not necessarily, but I could do it for you/Yup, that's a necessity." It speaks of the ways love can change you. Your mentality and perspective change because your focus is no longer solely on yourself. The brief EP ends with the bubbly, "SHOW ME OUT." Again, UMI shows her appreciation for finding someone who is simultaneously teaching her so much about herself while continuing to love her. Blissful and wholesome, the song finds UMI asking her partner to show her off, smother her with unconditional love, and further amplify this peace that she has now discovered from being with her lover.
"Talking to the wind" is really about letting go, trusting yourself, trusting love, and not thinking so much. These various pressures we face in life are more than enough to take us out if we allow it, but there are sweet moments that life brings too. There is sunshine that comes after the rain. Despite the darkness, there is light. There is love. UMI is a reminder of this. Sometimes, we simply need to disconnect and change focus. UMI continues to outdo herself and further unpackage what R&B feels and sounds like today. She is a force that is here to stay.