Kali Uchis has just dropped a little gift for her fans to savor and listen to during this Quarantine. Uchis took to Instagram earlier this week to announce the drop of her new EP, “TO FEEL ALIVE” – revealing that her album was supposed to be released around this time instead, but she didn’t feel as though the timing was right given the current state of the world right now. However, Uchis did want to gift her fans a little something to sink their teeth into during this difficult time – and she was not exaggerating when she said, “a little gift.”
“TO FEEL ALIVE” consists of four tracks and is only 10 minutes long, however, each track still feels completely fleshed out and finished. Uchis’s dreamlike cadence of her voice and the angelic instrumentation she is usually accompanied by is everything the world needs right now. “TO FEEL ALIVE” elicits a sensation of tripping, Uchis leads us outside the wider world and brings us into a state of lucid dreaming.
The first track of the album is a rendition of an old, leaked track that had been surfacing and living in the depths of SoundCloud. The original version of this track, “Honey Baby” was much more upbeat and Uchis even starts almost freestyling in the verses while her voice drips like honey on the chorus. This new version off the EP, “Honey Baby (SPOILED)” takes the same chorus but instead of singing with a more aggressive tone, her voice is delicate, gentle, and airy.
The beat has completely transformed from the original leaked version of this track as well. In this rendition of the track off the EP, “Honey Baby (SPOILED)” abandons the high tempo and snare drums from before. “Honey Baby (SPOILED)” is much more stripped down with the use of light piano keys and a melodic synthesizer while Uchis floats into more cascading, high pitch vocals towards the end of the track.
All the tracks off “TO FEEL ALIVE” carry this same sonic tone of day-dreaming – Uchis keeping the beats spacey and her vocals breathy. On the track, “angel” the beat makes you feel as though you are inside a video game – illuminating an image of pixels weaving in and out, a kaleidoscope expanding and widening. You can fall headfirst into this track, as Uchis sings on a love that is keeping her feeling high and elevated.
Uchis also seems to be exposing a feeling of being at war with herself and the world. There is a constant symbolism of angels vs. demons that finds its ways into the lyrics in these tracks. Uchis seems to be at war with toxic lovers – at war with the idea of giving in to desires and temptation. In some tracks, Uchis is indulging in the sin of love and others she is a warrior – holding onto her peace through solitude.
Uchis is also ruminating and lingering in grief itself, the absence of her ability to feel real emotions in the face of mourning is highlighted in track, “TO FEEL ALIVE.” This track is incredibly self-reflective, and the beat sets itself apart from the rest of the EP. The beat on “TO FEEL ALIVE” is completely carried by the plucking of strings and Uchis vocals take center stage.
In the verse, Uchis sings “All of the things I’ve lost, all I can do is love. Cause I’m a rebel, baby, I don’t play like I should. You held the shovel, baby, buried me in the dirt. I never been a Saint, baby, how does a sinner taste?
She creates the symbolism of good vs. evil, referencing the re-birth she is experiencing after a love that left her lifeless, feeling buried by the weight of her emotions. Uchis is reveling in her darker side – the side that helps her rise when things fall to pieces.
She exposes this idea that sometimes the anger or plight for revenge is the weapon that can get you through losses – even though we are taught these are bad emotions to linger in.
Uchis is finding that her fighting nature is crucial to getting her through periods of intense grief. She is also pleading with this EP to re-gain a sense of life – to resuscitate her emotions and extract the numbness she is surrounded by. She ends the EP with the presence of grief itself.
Uchis sings, “I miss my family, things will never be the same. To all the people that I’ve lost, I’m screamin, rest in peace.”