In my friend’s white tiled kitchen we are discussing friends-of-friends and what is good and local, and she excitedly tells me about a singer she thinks I’ll really like. With her phone set on the table for easy listening she plays Uma Bloo’s slo-mo cover of the poetically horny ‘I’m On Fire’. It echoes in a quivering chamber unrecognizable from the original. Just as devastated but noire not rugged. Since that 2018 cover Uma Bloo has grown, singer/songwriter Molly Madden now backed by a full band with a SXSW showcase under their belt. The new dynamic adds a textured layer to their newest song ‘Marguerite’s Novels’, the name of which is perhaps a perfect example of Uma Bloo’s pathos; Marguerite Duras, a french author known for her autobiography about a youthful affair titled L’Amant (which translates to ‘The Lover’ in English). Duras wrote prolifically and romantically before eventually delving into more experimental work. Something Madden has mirrored in her own career. The track walks out, Madden’s lyrics syncopated before the instrumental overlay melds into something more lush. Her voice is peeled back and the guitar starts to rail, taking up the job of the vocals, the reverb fluttering. The band sways and staggers into a finish. Yes it’s an homage to the romantic but to call Uma Bloo diaristic or confessional may lay them flat- they’re an experience, dancing somewhere between rock and baroque.
It’s impossible to listen to Uma Bloo without picturing Molly Madden’s guitar coated in silver glitter and her silk swathed photos. And then there’s Uma Room, an installation-meets-house-show designed to bring the audience into the world of Uma Bloo herself (a persona built on from Madden’s burlesque days). This gives Madden and/or Uma an opportunity to remove any label that may be placed on her sound. The Midwest has been graced with near 50 degree heat today and my windows are open hoping for an almost-spring breeze. The lights are dimmed and candles are lit just bright enough so that I can jot down my thoughts. Uma Bloo is playing loudly in the living room.