Introducing: Uma Bloo’s “Coming Home”

Stream the new track and read an essay on its inspiration by the Chicago artist herself.

If one isn’t born with a feeling of home, they’ll search for it until they find it. I have rarely felt necessarily in the right place, body, or state of mind. It makes me wonder whether some of us are born estranged — people who wander but are none the more romantic for it.

For a long time, I struggled to believe in the idea of home, often wishing that the concept was something I could erase. And yet, “Coming Home” is about deciding to return to the very place that has become estranged. My emotions are usually too big for me to be cognizant of, so I don’t like to pre-write lyrics. Instead, I sing a stream of consciousness over a group of chords until I find something that fits. On this song I landed on just two chords that repeat for its entirety. I sang over them…

I’m coming home to see you
It’s been quite awhile
Last time wasn’t so great
It’s okay, yeah that’s alright
I never did quite get to know you

Most of the songs I play live I wrote three or more years ago. Naturally, the more time that goes by, the less I feel attached to the situation that inspired it. But, unlike my more overtly romantic songs, “Coming Home” hasn’t stopped feeling relevant to me. The lyrics still feel visceral. Because of the meditative qualities of singing a stream of consciousness, I’ve noticed my lyrics are often five steps ahead of my everyday cognition. 

In the first verse, there is an ambivalence in the words. There is a lack of specificity surrounding the amount of time apart, a reluctance to bring up exactly what was wrong, and a shy wish for connection. The lyrics are doing a dance with their eyes on the ground, wanting to engage in vulnerability and only getting halfway there. It continues:

You’re sending me songs in the mail
And I don’t know what to say
Wish this would have come a bit earlier
Sometimes I wonder if you just got some sleep
If you would have been a little bit nicer to me
I never did quite get to know you

Without a feeling of home, one may meander into further uncertainty while theories on what went wrong the last time bombard the mind. How easy it seems, in retrospect, for things to have been made better.

The second verse suggests a nervousness toward the actual confrontation involved in a homecoming. The uncertainty of what the reception will be inspires anxiety as the other’s perspective is often lost in the passing of time. All that can be remembered is the last point of contact. But at the expense of significant time apart there is change, or at least one would hope.

Want to forgive you for what was done
But that conversation just doesn’t sound fun
I worry about what I don’t remember
Yeah, what else to feel guilty for
And would I end up back on the floor?

“Coming Home” is the song I look forward to playing most on stage. As I said a lot of the songs I play were inspired by an event from years ago. Because of this there are more theatrics involved to get myself to the height of feeling that the songs require. The reason I find “Coming Home” to be so exciting is because the emotion that inspired the song has remained readily available to me. 

During the bridge, there is a point of recognition: the lives and people we encounter are finite. After leaving people and places of the past, it is easy to forget they don’t stay frozen in time. We may even be surprised by how they change.

Thought this is what I wanted
To always be away
But you keep on getting smaller and I don’t like the change

Regardless of whether a change happens (or whether returning is a good idea in the first place), the places we have lived have a large stake in who we are, no matter how much we try to abandon them.

For a long time, I wanted to erase the idea of home. But now that I’ve left many homes and returned — then left and returned, and then left and returned again — I’ve noticed home isn’t something that remains as is. It is something that moves with you, it is mailable. It breaks and rebuilds. 

The song ends repeating, “I never did, I never did, I never did…” And so the search continues. 

(Photo Credit: Monika Oliver)

Uma Bloo is a character Molly Madden invented in response to world-weariness. Originally a solo project based in burlesque performance, Madden has since expanded into a full-fledged band that connects with audiences through sheer force of will.

The band’s strengths lie in stage performance and Madden’s unguarded lyrics that lay her out in the open. The sultry existentialist Uma Bloo is often compared to Angel Olsen and Warhol superstar Nico, who shares a penchant for defying traditional boundaries of genre while enticing listeners to reckon with the past.

As Madden’s first and only music project to date, her upcoming 2020 debut album includes songs she originally wrote when she was as young as 19. When she began recording, she enlisted Mike Altergott who soon after joined the band. Altergott is also a talented musician and engineer in his own right, who has worked with the likes of Fran and Fauvely, to name a few.

Madden brings her background in theater and performance to create an entirely immersive musical experience as Uma Bloo.

(Photo Credit: Monika Oliver)