“Anthem” is the single and title track from singer-songwriter Monica Uhm’s new EP. She calls the music she creates “philoso-folk,” which is an apt moniker. This song, musically, leans strongly toward a folkish style. Then, lyrically, Uhm can be heard sharing some of her philosophy of life.
Uhm became a songwriter a little accidentally. You see, she began to create her own songs while learning how to play guitar. You might say learning to write songs was a motivating factor in her learning overall process. The next step in this learning curve was joining and fronting different independent, alternative rock acts around the New York City area. April of 2018 was one of the biggest moments of her career to date, in that this was then that she released her first full-length album. Any amateur can teach himself or herself to play guitar, and even pen a few tunes in the process. However, the release of an album is usually only something achieved by serious professionals. She called this album Cowboys & Aliens. In truth, this was a solo album, although it was released under the name Trio Of Awesuhm.
Uhm is continuing to write and record songs. In fact, she is working with producer Sam Wagner at The Koop Studios on a highly personal project that include reworkings for songs from her 2000 demo Six Years to Zanzibar.
“Anthem” is an unusual name for this song. When we think of actual anthems, we often consider, say, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which is the United States’ national anthem. Therefore, the term anthem is oftentimes applied to patriotic songs. Even when not being used to sing the praises of, say, a particular country, anthems are more often than not big, bold statements of purpose. Alas, anthems are defined as rousing or uplifting songs, identified with a particular group, body or cause. Another example of an anthem, then, might be a song sung in church. These would many times involve religious people singing the praises of their god.
With that said, Uhm’s unassuming little song accomplishes none of the above goals. It, instead, opens sweetly and quietly with Uhm singing over an acoustic guitar strum. “If I died,” Uhm tells, “I hope it could be said that I fought the good fight.” How is this at all rousing or uplifting in any way? Words like these come off more doubtful and self-deprecating, instead. The listener can almost picture Hum hovering like a ghostly drone over her own funeral, waiting for somebody to say that, if nothing else, Uhm gave it her all during her lifetime.
After singing the first parts of this song over only an acoustic guitar, a band eventually joins her. This arrangement includes melodic electric guitar fills. When she asks at one point, “Have you felt that too?” it’s clear Uhm is looking for some validation. It’s a sort of call and response song, only in Uhm’s case, the response she’s looking for includes nods of agreement from her audience whenever she sings the song live. She even whistles a bit toward the track’s end. Usually, if whistling is applied to a song, this signals for the listener a lighthearted tune. Not here, though. No, Uhm is dead serious. It may not give you chills the way many national anthems can, but with her single “Anthem,” Monica Uhm is clearly not fooling around.