Ambar Lucid has released an impressive catalog of bilingual tracks and a string of hypnotizing visuals, including a documentary, Llegaron Las Flores, which chronicles the Dominican/Mexican American singer's life separated from her father and her journey to reunite with him years after he was deported to Mexico. Ambar is a new, refreshingly brave voice in music, and if you slept on her 2019 debut, Dreaming Lucid, there's plenty of time to fix that.
The EP is a graceful and profound project that blends R&B and progressive pop elements while calling on the influences of outspoken Chilean American songstresses like Mon Lafarte, and softly draping atmospheric vocals a la Alice Phoebe Lou. Dreaming Lucid is expansive and transcendent, interlacing English and Spanish lyrics with themes of despair, escape, and self-reliance.
The singer was 16 when she wrote “A Letter to My Younger Self,” a dreamy acoustic cut that explores self-awareness as something infinite, and shares a reassuring promise of future safety and contentment, to a past version of herself that needed it. “I think I wrote the words in the way that I needed to hear them," she told VICE. "I’m the oldest of all my siblings, so I kinda grew up alone. I remember wishing I had someone close to my age around, sharing my childlike perspective and understanding what I was going through.”
She explained that the song was her attempt to draw a thread between the future and the past. ”For a very big portion of my life, I felt really hopeless because everyone would always tell me that I needed to pursue something more realistic as a career. My approach to 'A Letter to My Younger Self,' was just to write what I wished somebody would have told me—that I’d be fine if I just followed my dream.”
Ambar recalled the lessons behind clinging to that intuition. "A lot of people have their own insecurities and their own battles that they’re dealing with, and sometimes they project them onto other people, maybe not even on purpose," she said. "It’s so important to define yourself, and to be true and honest with yourself. That is the only way I think we end up on the path that is most authentic to ourselves, and brings us the most happiness.”
It’s hard to believe Ambar is only 18, which speaks to both her commitment to her art and the strength of her instincts. She cites Alice Phoebe Lou and Willow Smith as songwriters of her time who inspire her. "They are writing about empowerment and acceptance of self through a spiritual lens," she said. "Their songs can bring me to tears,” she said.
Last summer, Ambar released Llegaron Las Flores, a documentary about her life after being separated from her father when he was deported. “Growing up, it was always kind of a secret," she recalled. "I couldn’t even talk about it, so I couldn’t find many people I could relate to. I’m sure there were people around me, but it’s always such a weird topic to talk about openly, and I didn’t find people I could relate to until the documentary came out."
The documentary chronicles Ambar's trip to Mexico to reunite with her father. "For so long, not being around my dad was something that was so normal, I knew I had a little sister for years and I never got to meet her. Seeing them in person made me realize these people are, literally, a part of me.”
Creating the film was eye-opening for the young artist. “I never thought about my dad’s side of where I came from," she said. "In the moment, it was just hard to understand the emotions I was experiencing. Seeing my dad and understanding that this man was half the part of my creation was really surreal, and so was the fact that it was so normal for me to think about how I was never around him. This is where my genetics came from, he’s a part of me.”