Present Tense, the fourth album from Yumi Zouma is an epic in an intimate, subtle way that only the international four-piece is capable of. Comprised of dreamy instrumentals (which includes pedal steel, pianos, saxophones, woodwinds, and strings played by friends around the globe) and delicate vocals, the album serves as a perfect follow-up to 2020’s Truth or Consequences, which dropped at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and found the band switching gears more than ever before. The result is an album that is incredibly personal and vulnerable while remaining relatable, and complex and intricate without once sounding too busy.
The guiding force of Present Tense is singer/keyboardist Christie Simpson’s sweet vocal work, complimented perfectly by lush landscapes of sound that’ll wrap around you like a warm blanket from start to finish. Opening the album is “Give It Hell” which not only catches fans up to speed with the band since 2020, but also perfectly sets the tone for the songs to follow with dreamy guitar work and stunning vocals. The remaining nine songs find the band exploring new sounds in a way that feels both organic and exciting. Listening to the album with great speakers or good noise-canceling headphones is a must to catch all of its little intricacies, especially in songs like “Honestly, It’s Fine” or the atmospheric “Where The Lights Used To Lay”. “Mona Lisa” is a little more in your face with the band’s exploration of sound, coming to an epic conclusion with a massive explosion of horns and guitar. In the same vein, “In The Eyes Of Our Love” finds the band playing their most fast-paced track yet.
Timeless, organic, sleek and complicated in the most simplistic way, Present Tense paints a stunning picture from start to finish. For those who might be hearing Yumi Zouma for the first time, these ten songs will absolutely prompt a deep-dive into their catalog, and for long-time fans, Present Tense was well worth the wait.