EP Review: Meru, ‘The Human Experience’

Listen to The Human Experience.

Photo by Sandra Zegarra Patow

Meru, a Venezuelan singer/songwriter based in Amsterdam, released her second and entirely self-produced EP The Human Experience Friday, 13 March 2020. The 7-track EP melds salsa, cumbia, and elements of old-school hip hop injected with subtle humour, kindness, and self-assuredness.

Her layered vocals oscillate between Spanish and English, spoken word and singing, the pensive and wry observation. Although she sings about the everyday feelings any human might experience, a futuristic, alien-like voice surfaces throughout. It first directly welcomes the listener in the EP’s opener ‘Hiphop,’ which cleverly references several other rap songs in Meru’s versatile voicings and melody samples, and reflects on what she wants out of her life and legacy, and what she wants to express on the EP. Her existential wanderings stop short- “whoa, this is getting too deep so I am just going to enjoy right now.” 

Despite the futuristic, alien allusions, The Human Experience is set on Planet Earth and conjures the natural world in both song names and sounds, like on ‘Agua,’ a cumbia melody with ethereal vocals and soft saxophone, or the shimmering acoustic guitar in the interlude ‘Roots,’ and vocals like birdsong in ‘Chuao/Venezuelan Dreams’. The heavy bassline and horns in ‘Fuego’ are definitely fire, and bring together the EP’s nature and human-in-the-world threads: ‘They’re asking me for a lighter but I’m telling him that I got the fire. The elements around me, siento fuego en ti.’

The songs’ low-key waviness and emotional openness conjure a sense of intimacy. The listener feels as if she’s in Meru’s room (indeed, Meru sings in ‘Hiphop’ that’s where she makes her beats). She sings about the desire to enjoy life simply despite not knowing how to help cure the societal ills that worry her, and her songs are imbued with messages of unity and oneness. She does this cleverly on the R&B track “IJUSTWANNAHAVEFUN,” the turning point in the EP where you’d go from nodding along on Meru’s bed to dancing, and on the closing track ‘Human,’ which in an accelerated, edging alien voice she raps ‘Tell me about your perspective, I’m so interested. I wanna learn about you, I’m sure we have a lot in common.’

Although Meru made the EP on her own, she treats her audience like friends. The Human Experience conveys the uncertainty and challenges of being a person on the planet, but leaves the listener feeling less alone, uplifted, and connected to the earth.