Kali Uchis released “TO FEEL ALIVE,” a four-song EP on Friday, April 24, via Interscope Records. This is Uchis’ first release since her debut album “Isolation,” which came out just over two years ago. She recorded all four songs in her house while self isolating during the coronavirus pandemic. In just over 10 minutes, Uchis walks the listener through an unpredictable romantic relationship, discussing themes such as arguing, drug use, selfishness, and finally, burned bridges.
“Honey Baby,” a song that dates back to early 2015 (although it wasn’t officially released until now), kicks off the EP with a quick look into Uchis’ romantic relationship at the time. The song was produced by Aja Grant, Uchis, and Vegyn. Uchis smoothly sings over a calming instrumental, “I'm your little angel, make your stars align / Say I'm always on your mind, your mind, your mind.” The EP then transitions to “angel,” which is the song I find myself going back to most.
“Angel” picks up the pace slightly, as she starts the song off by explaining “Everybody wants it, everybody's waiting / Baby, you should know that you're everything I'm craving / Can we take it slow? Telling myself to be patient / Life is miserable every time the time is wasted.” Uchis continues to discuss the ups and downs that come with personal relationships, referring to herself as an angel, as she did on the first song.
The track was previously titled “Pablo Escobar,” and Uchis later references the Colombian drug lord: “You're just like a drug, can I be your Pablo Escobar? / Take you across the borders, reach me on my cellular / You know you ain't regular, you don't need a metaphor / Psychedelic visions, honey, raising up my temperature.” Although the chorus can get repetitive, the increasingly intriguing instrumental keeps the listener wanting more.
“I want war (BUT I NEED PEACE)” is a perfect follow up to “Angel.” I absolutely love how the instrumental picks up about a minute in, and Uchis delivers the clear cut best chorus on the EP: “'Cause I got needs, yeah, I got needs / I want war, but I need peace / And they kept on calling me crazy / But maybe that's how God made me / Take a look at what you made me / Calling me crazy, that's what you made me.” The song was performed during her 2019 tour alongside Jorja Smith.
I can really feel the emotion and passion on this song, something that I thought was slightly lacking on the first two cuts. On the fourth and final song, “TO FEEL ALIVE,” Uchis has seemed to reach her breaking point. In the intro, she sings “I just wanna feel something / I just wanna feel something,” before detailing the end of her relationship: “I loved you well just for you to turn to an enemy / I love the smell of you burnin' your last bridge with me.”
Uchis seems incredibly honest and vulnerable during this song, and I thought it was a great idea to layer the vocals like she did. It reminded me a lot of Björk, who has long been one of her biggest inspirations. “TO FEEL ALIVE” gets a little tedious towards the end, as she recites the phrases “I just wanna feel something” and “I just wanna feel alive” over and over. In the end, it was clear that Uchis’ relationship reached a breaking point and she had to deal with the reality of that.
As a whole, the EP doesn’t blow me away like “Isolation” did, but I think it’s a really good batch of tracks and a couple of Uchis’ best songs to date. “Angel” and “I want war (BUT I NEED PEACE)” are definitely the superior tracks in my opinion, but the others aren’t far behind. I think the majority of music consumers consider “Isolation” to be Uchis’ coming out party, and her next album could be an introduction into mainstream popularity. I’m really looking forward to what she has on deck.