Uma Bloo began life as a stage persona that Chicago-based artist, Molly Maden created for burlesque performance. As Molly expanded into performing music, the name came with her, on a journey that takes in grief and heartbreak, as well as the sound of a community of like-minded musicians and collaborators she discovered in her home city. Uma Bloo’s latest offering is Molly’s new album, Don’t Drive Into the Smoke, due at the end of March on Earth Libraries, and ahead of the release she’s sharing the latest track to be lifted from it, Marguerite’s Novels.
Listening to the music Uma Bloo makes can at first seem an almost disorienting experience, explorations of difficult themes, be it grief, love or heartache, are set to backings that are less about how they sound, and more about how they make you feel. There’s a cathartic jarring quality to Molly’s music, as she explains, “I focus less on what they’ll sound like and judge them based on whether or not the physical expression of whatever I’m feeling is successful”. This is exemplified in the array of emotions expressed in Marguerite’s Novels, the song lurching from an almost vaudevillian request to dance before taking an existential waltz into the graveward bound inevitability of life. As explained by Molly’s bandmate Luke Blanco, “The death of anything (a body, a relationship, a career, a core belief, etc) is nothing to fear. Death isn’t something we fully understand, but at least within the realm of the living endings aren’t anything but a catalyst for transformation.”
Musically the track is a delightfully swooping piece sliding from intense indie-rock through to waltzing dream-pop, with Molly’s magnetic vocals demanding the listener’s attention throughout. There’s something distinctly physical about Molly’s voice, a magic in the way you can almost hear her sigh in a breath before launching into her breathtaking, plummeting falsetto. The track seems to always be building towards something, and with its luxurious closing crescendo it does just that, Molly’s voice giving way to a masterful breakdown of guitar and drums, sending the song twirling away into the ether from which it came. Uma Bloo makes music that seems to know that life is most dramatic on the edges, the thrilling light of romance, the pained blackness of grief, and there throughout all the highs and lows is the distinct flourish of humanity, raw, honest and really rather wonderful.
Don’t Drive Into The Smoke is out March 23rd via Earth Libraries. For more information on Uma Bloo visit https://umabloo.bandcamp.com/.