Sara Lugo Drops Effervescent EP “Elevate”

“From the dark to the light

like a seed in the dirt

it’s time we rise

be the change you wanna see

it begins with you and me

history is ours to write

everything is possible

elevate your mind

quit the wrongs and do what is right

from the dark to the light

from your heart to the mind

it’s time you shine.”

Sara Lugo, Elevate

The sound of Sara Lugo’s new EP Elevate is so fizzy and ambient it’s practically carbonated, like soda pop for the soul. Released on October 2, the record was born out of a collaboration with Blanka, a member of the French music group La Fine Equipe whom Lugo met after moving to France.

A decade into her musical career and Lugo’s distinctive voice is as cool as ever. While her first two albums are decidedly reggae, Elevate marks a turn in a new direction. It overflows with energy and hip hop beats. The tracks still have reggae and neo-soul influences, but their composition is super playful. The result is a charming, electric, groovy listen.

Lugo is evidently not one to sulk or ruminate in her music, for every single one of the five tracks on her EP has a feel-good, positive message. Instead of exploring negative feelings like sadness and disappointment she focuses on how to overcome them. She may not leave much to subtlety or poetic interpretation in her lyrics, but her bluntness is endearing and attention-grabbing. It’s like she’s calling out to the listener directly, telling us to do better.

The namesake song Elevate starts the EP off with a (big) bang. It is accompanied by a music video that begins at night and ends with a sunrise, giving the repeated line “from the dark to the light” physical representation.

Like the EP’s cover art, the video features cosmic visual elements that complement the feel of the song. Elevate is crackling, modern, even galactic. Its sound production envelopes the listener in the auditory equivalent of spinning solar systems and violet space dust trailing from comets, all the while grounding us in her straightforward lyrics.

The word “elevate” itself— with its connotations of soaring and rising higher—folds into this stellar theme. Not to mention that this song is surely capable of elevating anyone’s mood within the first minute of listening.

We’re gonna get through this

you can’t always change what happens to you

but you can surely change your attitude

so just be be be be the change you wanna see

Sara Lugo, Elevate

The second track on the album, Flowaz, has a soulful beginning with jazzy instrumentals. Then the beat gets groovy and Lugo’s voice gets flirty as she croons “bring me flowers.” There are multiple layers to this song, as “bring me flowers” in one sense is a cheeky and confident command. But in another sense “flowers” seem to be a metaphor for strong, confident women. She talks about one girl in particular, saying “don’t you know you’re beautiful you beautiful thing… fragile yet stronger than the strongest man, / breaking through concrete like a dandelion.”   

The song is bright and saturated in images that evoke colors and light and sweet things:

When I say flower you probably think

about bright colors maybe yellow or pink

 like the sky when the sun kisses the world goodnight

like the sweet of a guava which i never tried

so beautiful and perfect with your imperfections

Sara Lugo, Flowaz

Her following track Energy of God is a self-love anthem. Just like in her first two songs there is a strong light motif: “go ahead and shine my dear… go ahead and shine my light for everyone to see.” In the song she says “you’re powerful,” irreplaceable, and a survivor; she remarks “you’re the best there is of you so why you holding back?” It never hurts to have a reminder to love ourselves and treat ourselves well, and this song does just that.

On her Instagram account she explored this very concept of self love, writing in a post on August 16:

“This life is a funky journey, so don’t be too harsh on yourself and with others. Love and understanding are key. Try to practice it on a daily. I mean it when I say Love is, was, and will forever be the strongest force in this reality. Start with that beautiful self love.”

Sara Lugo

Time debuts with a a static vinyl sound that alludes to the past and thus the concept of time right from the start. However the lyrics (“time, use it while you got it”) and “tick tock” refrain are a bit too on the nose. She could have treated the subject in a more interesting way, but the punchiness of her other tracks compensate for this one.

sara lugo elevate sounds so beautiful 2

The EP’s final track is the sparkling Free Flow, which is exactly what its name suggests: freely flowing and light as air with a weightless chorus that soars. You can’t help but move to this “precious” track.

On Elevate Lugo gravitates towards themes of strength, growth, and resilience, all the while remaining vibey and upbeat. A caffeine-substitute, this EP has plenty of energy and motivation from which to draw on.  

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