Headphones: Kali Uchis Shows Off Diverse Range On Debut Album
24-year old Columbian singer and songwriter Kali Uchis has finally dropped her highly anticipated debut album, Isolation. Uchis has stepped into the spotlight in the past two years after receiving a Latin Grammy nomination in 2017 for her contributions on Daniel Caesar’s “Get You” and now just a year later with her debut album. Isolation is an elegant representation of the skill that Uchis has and the range she can achieve across multiple genres.
With the release of three singles over the past year, Uchis has built a significant amount of anticipation around the album. “Tyrant”, featuring R&B newcomer Jorja Smith, is a blend of pop and soul as both Uchis and Smith offer their harmonic vocals over a catchy drum beat. The album’s second released single, “Nuestro Planeta”, is a tribute to Uchis’ Colombian roots as the entire track is sung in her native language of Spanish over another pop-inspired beat. The most recent single released this January, “After The Storm”, brings Uchis together with Tyler, The Creator and Bootsy Collins is without a doubt the funk track of the year. The song offers an old-school beat on which Uchis again provides a soft vocal track, eventually lending some time for Tyler to spit a verse typical to his sound and vibe.
Uchis has released videos to accompany all three singles, all with their own unique look. The video for “Tyrant” follows Uchis’ old-school vibe with both her and Smith in 70s-inspired outfits meshed with the look of an electronic music video.
The video for “Nuestro Planeta” takes on a much darker tone creating a look similar to that of a hip-hop video. The urban feel of the video combines perfectly with the Colombian spirit of the track. In a much more sensual dance track, Uchis has contradicted the sound with this dark, mystical, and visually enticing video.
Lastly, “After The Storm”, takes us through the four seasons on an artistic adventure with Uchis and Tyler as the stars. The video is a beautiful collection of colors, tones, and backdrops as Uchis harmonizes us through nostalgic costumes and Tyler lying in the grass, snow, rain, and sun rapping lyrics filled with metaphoric quips.
Both “Dead To Me” and “In My Dreams” are perfect examples of the nostalgic vibe that comes from Kali Uchis’ music. While many of today’s pop stars elect for a new diluted sound, Uchis re-institutes an era of pop and dance tracks long forgotten. Her softer, more faded vocals in both tracks make for a sound and rhythm similar to what you might hear from late 1980s and 90s music.
“Feel Like A Fool” is one of the most energetic and enjoyable songs on the entire album. Fusing together sounds of both pop and indie rock, Uchis has created a track worthy of playing on repeat for the rest of the day. The catchy chorus of the track is another element behind the success of this song’s sound. “It’s no fun to feel like a fool/When you learn your baby don’t belong to you”, Uchis sings on the chorus, giving listeners an upbeat record about an otherwise gloomy and melancholy topic.
Although at first glance you may not realize it, “Tomorrow” is in fact a collaboration track. Not only does Uchis offer up another blissful vocal performance, but also recruits Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker to give the song a psychedelic and intoxicating sound. Parker has produced and co-written tracks for other top pop artists like Lady Gaga, and in his collaborative debut with Kali Uchis the two have hit a home run. The track’s soothing, soulful, and trippy sound are perfect for the lighter vocals of Uchis who flows perfectly along the tune of the song.
The overall production of the album is another element that makes the unique sounds of the tracks so spectacular. There are over 20 credited producers assisting on Isolation including names like Gorillaz, Steve Lacy, and Thundercat. The diverse sounds from the variety of different producers combined with Uchis’ fluid and flowing voice create relaxing tracks for you to vibe to.
“Just A Stranger” featuring singer and guitarist Steve Lacy of The Internet brings back the funk as Lacy has been able to do for other artists such as Goldlink and Kendrick Lamar. With Uchis’ flowing into, she and Lacy team up for the chorus kicked off saying, “She wants my hundred-dollar bills, she don’t want love”. The track is another example of how Uchis, with the occasional help of an additional producer, has found a funky sound with a tranquil vibe. The combination of Lacy and Uchis is one to keep an eye on, as they made a hit their first time working together.
Kali Uchis’ traditional and old school sound is just one of the many reasons her success has boosted so much in the past few years. While there are plenty of talented artists finding sounds fit for younger generations, there are many who enjoy the sound and mood that Uchis is able to recreate through her soft vocals and expert production.
The way she has burst into a large variety of genres is one of many reasons she has blown up so much recently. Combined with her unique old-school sound Kali Uchis has given traditional music lovers something special that has not been heard in years. Her work with more low-key artists such as Daniel Caesar and Jorja Smith along with more popular stars like Tyler, The Creator and Miguel is another prominent reason for her booming success. By adding her unique vocals to the tracks of other remarkable singers and rappers she has influenced many to adopt her traditional sound. Kali Uchis is with no doubt an artist to watch as her rise is taking the music industry by storm.