Spilling the tea on Oracle Blue’s new single “Herbal Tea”
The current, swept up in the surreal
Shallow and hollow
Painting the mask with what I should feel
Heavy and mellow
The stimulation makes it hard for me to heal
Lately I’ve been so burned out
My thoughts are racing through the clouds
There’s a reason that I’m so stressed out
So to turn my vision from the doubt I’ve been drinking my herbal teaHerbal Tea
It’s time to sit back, sip tea, and listen to Oracle Blue’s latest single. Calm like a cup of chamomile and refreshing like a peppermint infusion, the fittingly titled Herbal Tea evokes a whole state of being. With carefree confidence and easy charm, Herbal Tea encourages us to shrug off the anxieties that stem from too much time on our phones.
Neo-soul group Oracle Blue is fronted by Liz Kelley (producer, vocalist, and guitarist) and Zach Douglas (multi-instrumentalist, composer, and playback engineer). They are a classically-trained duo who blend timelessness and moody vocals with a certain swagger. Their rhythm section is rounded out by a rotating cast of artists who add to the unique sound of the group.
“Nashville-based group Oracle Blue blends elements of Neo-Soul, electronic music and #BAM (Black American Music) to create a newfangled soundscape with a sullen danceability.”Oracle Blue Website Bio
Founded as students at Coastal Carolina University, Oracle Blue has been growing quickly since their debut album Gilded Kingdom. They have won multiple awards, toured in Europe in 2016, opened for five-time Grammy award-winning artist Lalah Hathaway, and have held a residency in Nashville jazz club Rudy’s since 2018.
Herbal Tea is the result of a recent months-long collaboration with producer Justin Trout and bassist MonoNeon, who’s worked with Prince, Mac Miller, and Ne-Yo.
MonoNeon is seen “getting down” on a retro television screen in the music video for Herbal Tea. His in-the-moment, groovy dancing adds a burst of adorable energy that instantly brings a smile to your face.
This quirkiness is only enhanced by the presence of the other Oracle Blue members: Zach Douglas jazzing up his classic attire with a chic pile of dreads atop his head, Ian Strobino with glitter-streaked cheek bones, and David Williford wearing a bohemian scarf on his forehead and orange shades.
If the men vibing in the video are visionaries, then Liz Kelley is their black-lipsticked, silver-haired queen who rocks each look and nails every note.
The Herbal Tea video drips joy and style. It is just so aesthetically perfect, from every gorgeously color-coordinated room in the house to all the little details of sparkle-dusted cupcakes, champagne bottles, floating bubbles, and disco balls.
Cups of tea cover every available table, and it all comes together in this very pleasing melange of the modern and the nostalgic— which, by the way, is not unlike Oracle Blue’s music style. (If you also can’t get enough of the aesthetics, check out their fun website, which features art deco styling, retro graphics, and animated animals.)
Piecing together and synthesizing youth
Cut it patch it slice me
Pretty, bloody, icy
Covered in rust, faking the lust
All I ever wanted was someone to love
Digital romancer, virtual cancerHerbal Tea
In the realm of beverages, herbal tea is a very deliberate choice. Other drinks are chosen because of a craving for escape (alcohol) or artificial energy (coffee) or sugar (soda, juices, etc.), all of which are caused by an overworked and over-stimulated society. Herbal tea, however, is the antithesis of all this. It is simple. It is drunk to nurture the body, to be savored, to enhance zen.
Kelley sings that she is “drinking my herbal tea, minding the business that pays me” and no other. She is burnt out and tired of all the superficiality— by drinking herbal tea she chooses a different perspective, one that is more sustainable and also healthier for mind-body-and-spirit.
In making this statement about choosing to disconnect, the song also makes an allusion to the internet meme “sipping my tea,” which is used as an expression about minding your own business.
This song was conceived in a COVID-19 world where the band struggled with their mental health, like so many others. In addition to adjusting to virtual concerts and recording, the band disconnected from social media. This digital detox made coping easier and allowed them to redirect their newfound energy to recording.
“Over the course of quarantine I found myself spending more and more time on social media, feeling overwhelmed by the polarized opinions of others… When I shifted my glance from the screen to my mental health, my panic attacks subsided, I had a clearer vision for my creative endeavors, and I felt more compassionate toward myself.”Liz Kelley
Social media has some wonderful components, but it also has just as many detrimental ones. And when the harmful aspects overtake the beneficial aspects, when social media begins to foster self-consciousness and anxieties, this is the moment when we need to take a step back. Yet often we don’t, because it can be hard to stay away.
If art is a reflection of current attitudes and issues, then Herbal Tea serves as a wonderful reminder of how to prioritize self-care in an increasingly connected world. Bubbly and jazzy, it puts forward a very necessary mantra: just sip tea and let it be.