Roughly two years after the release of her debut studio album, Isolation, Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis has gifted fans with her latest release, TO FEEL ALIVE. Uchis shared this EP to hold fans over until the release of her highly anticipated second studio album, set to release later this year. Just before dropping this surprise project, Uchis shared on Instagram that she recorded this EP “alone in [her] room” earlier in April.
This project finds Uchis revisiting unreleased fan favorites of hers. The first track, “honey baby (SPOILED!),” was originally uploaded to SoundCloud in April 2015 as simply, “Honey Baby”. Shared as part of the trailer for her 2015 release Por Vida, it didn’t make the final cut of that EP. The opening production of this track sounds like a glittery, whimsical dream – a bit reminiscent of the soft sounds of a baby’s cradle, or a nursery rhyme. With birds chirping in the background, Uchis coos about a new lover. Although the people around her seem to voice doubts about this love, Uchis chooses to ignore them and instead, plead that her lover stay true and “never turn an enemy”. This is a theme which is revisited in the last track. As the track progresses, Uchis continues to fawn over her lover. The song is light, airy, and dreamy – depicting the sweet feelings of falling in love.
The second track, “angel,” features a catchy, dance-worthy trap beat. Also featured in the Por Vida trailer and later released on SoundCloud as “Pablo Escobar,” Uchis updated this track with a new outro. This song depicts Uchis’ new love as a drug, a tried and true metaphor. The energy of this song is contagious – it’s easy to find oneself bobbing their head and singing along as the first verse begins. Uchis’ voice is smooth like butter; a wonderful element of this EP. As the track is essentially a love letter, it continues the light and sweet vibe of the first track. Each time Uchis sings that their love is “taking [her] high,” listeners are further swept into feelings of a new love. The outro of the song is particularly dreamy.
The third track, “i want war (BUT I NEED PEACE),” marks a shift in the EP. The sweet beginnings of Uchis’ love affair are now turning sour. This song is another unreleased tune – Uchis performed it throughout her tour alongside Jorja Smith, as well as at a few festivals. The title of the song encapsulates its message – while Uchis still loves this person, their love is causing her distress and she knows she deserves peace of mind. The production picks up during the first chorus, making this track another groovy, toe-tapper. The piano chords during the outro are beautiful, giving the track a melancholic sound.
The EP closes with “TO FEEL ALIVE”. This song encompasses the feelings of desperation and loss – loss of a lover, loss of oneself – which accompany heartbreak. The theme of simply wanting to feel something, emphasized by Uchis in the closing verse of the song as she repeats “I just want to feel something, I just want to feel alive,” like a mantra, is one that the global consciousness can relate to during these unprecedented times. Uchis’ wailing vocals in the background of the closing verse further emphasize the feelings of anguish that come with heartbreak. Unfortunately, Uchis “loved [them] well, just for [them] to turn into an enemy,” something she feared in the first track.
Overall, this short but fierce EP is highly enjoyable, marking another impressive chapter in Uchis’ discography. Uchis manages to tell a captivating love story in just a few tracks, chock full of groovy beats and colorful imagery. Listeners are left in anticipation of her next studio album – but until then, this project satisfies.