Healing Through Music: A Review of UMI’s Forest in...

Healing Through Music: A Review of UMI’s Forest in the City

“By the end of the album, UMI has healed and can accept her true self. A little part of you will be healed as well every time you listen to the album.”

When listening to UMI’s debut album Forest in the City you are going through the phases of the artist’s life with her. By the end of the album, you are healed. 

The Seattle native began to release music in 2017, and then decided to drop out of college to focus on music in 2018. 

The album took four years to create before it was released on Thursday, May 26, 2022 under RCA Records.

Forest in the City is a mixture of alternative R&B, singer-songwriter and neo-soul. To add a personal touch, the album includes sound clips of nature and conversations from UMI’s family and friends.

In a Genius interview, UMI mentioned the process of going into a meditative state before writing her songs. She recommends listeners to do the same and meditate before listening to the album. 


In an Instagram post about her album, UMI said she was “Feeling this myself, I wanted to create an album that could be a sonic oasis. So that no matter where you are in the city, listening can connect you back to the natural world.”  



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“sorry” is the first song on the album. Throughout the song, UMI reflects on her life by singing about wanting to travel abroad and achieve her major goals. That’s when she arrives at the chorus and realizes “I never trust my gut / I’m sorry, I will start loving myself enough.” She recognizes that her self-love is low and needs attention.

Speaking of love, UMI includes songs about the phases of her romantic relationships as well. 

“say i’m ur love” is about the initial attraction between two people. It is a traditional R&B track with a sultry tone. UMI sings to her love interest that she wants to be closer.

Now out of the honeymoon phase with her lover in “too late” she explains the issues in her relationship. She reveals that they have poor communication, causing her to leave. Then in the song “moonlit room” UMI has a sudden change of heart and wants to get back in the relationship.

The album then switches to the pop tune “whatever u like,” a song that feels like it was made to be played when taking a ride down Lake Shore Drive on a sunny day.

Near the end of the song, in the background it features a clip from an audience cheering. It makes you want to throw your hands up and enjoy the current environment. It is a song that allows you to be present at the moment.

“It’s offering people music that’s like fresh air, like pockets of forest, pockets of peace… The feeling that being at the park can give you. That’s the intention,” UMI said in an interview with Rolling Stone

Track 11 called “everything will be alright” has the grooviest bass line on the entire album. You can let go of your past and not let your ego get the best of you. In the second verse UMI sings “Ur intuition must have lead you here / I hope you heard, you hear me loud and clear.” This song includes clapping from an audience too, congratulating UMI for learning from her mistakes and healing. 

In the song UMI sings in Japanese tying into her Japanese heritage. Her full name is Tierra Umi Wilson and she goes by UMI. When translated, UMI means ocean in Japanese. 

In “100 days” UMI takes a look back at what she has been through. “I cannot believe the pain I’ve endured,” she sings. UMI is having a setback because the same painful experiences keep occurring but she is not growing from them. It is the most soulful track on her album with the help of the choir singing in the background.

“I finally love myself now / And I do what I do when I want it,” is said in the chorus of the second to last track “bird’s eye view.” The sounds of the birds chirping send you back to nature. UMI’s voice is accompanied by chimes and triangles that bring a state of serenity to the listener.

UMI changes emotions throughout the album. After every setback she has experienced, there is a learning curve. By the end of the album, UMI has healed and can accept her true self. 

A little part of you will be healed as well every time you listen to the album.

UMI is currently on tour for Forest in the City. She will be performing at Lincoln Hall in Chicago on June 29 and 30.


Header illustration by Madeline Smith