Uma
Bel-li
Slow Dance

Uma is a Barcelona-based singer and artist, the product of a globe-trotting, diverse family.  Her mom is from London and is a performance artist, her dad is from Bangkok, but grew up largely in the UK. She grew up with her mom in Spain, her siblings with her dad in Greece, though he also spent time in Bangkok working with HIV+ people there.  She took a degree in music and here we are.

Bel-li is a luminous and beautiful song cycle, recalling everything from Hope Sandoval to Feist to Xenia Rubinos to Bebel Gilberto.  Uma creates a warm and inviting soundscape, draped in sunlight and late nights, warmth and love.  It is rare that I find music as evocative as this.  Vocally, Uma’s voice recalls Nico, if Nico could actually sing and had any intonation or musicality in her voice.

The music is centred around classical Spanish guitar and a gentle acoustic guitar, and whilst it is largely acoustic in nature, she is genre-bending and seeks to develop a soundscape for her music as much as anything else, reflecting her upbringing as a classical violinist from the age of four and her degree in music.

I find myself drawn particularly to ‘Silver Tongue,’ a meditation on love, as is most of this ep, as Uma states Bel-li ‘is a first glance into that world and as such it is centred completely on the great loves I have fallen into. I try to write honestly about my fears and pains because it is my way of processing them – owning them. I spend a lot of time writing in notebooks and finding my way around my mind. Putting some of these words to music is just one way for me to share a bit of myself with whoever would like to listen.’  And on ‘Silver Tongue,’ she draws on falling into a big, stupid love, ‘my darling, I’ve never known a love like yours.’  She recognizes love is a fool’s game, but, of course, this is what we’re drawn to.

The next track, ‘Pride’ is built around a simple guitar, and the dissolution of a relationship:

I don’t have much to show
But two broken hearts
And a lot of mistakes
And I know your pain
Weighs down on you
Because mine does too.

This is the track where she most recalls Feist, so there’s probably a reason I’m do drawn to it.  And yet, in the midst of her heartbreak, Uma does offer her hand back to her lover.

The music is centred around a soft and gentle acoustic guitar, but she brings in everything from piano to harps and percussion in creating her soundscape, and the earnestness in her voice is refreshing and serves to invite the listener into her world for a bit. Only five tracks long, Uma doesn’t overstay her welcome, and leaves you wanting more.