Review: Kali Uchis’s album Isolation

Reviews

Over the past few years, R&B artist Kali Uchis has been making a name for herself in the music industry, and her anticipated debut album “Isolation “does not disappoint.

Fans of Tyler, The Creator most likely will recognize Uchis from his songs “See You Again” off of  “Flower Boy” along with features on several other of his songs. Uchis has also sung on records with Snoop Dogg, The Gorillaz, and Daniel Caesar whose collaboration resulted in a grammy nomination for both of them in the category “Best R&B Performance.” She also has gone on tour with acts like Leon Bridges and Lana Del Rey. To say Kali Uchis is taking the music industry by storm is an understatement.

Isolation stays true to Uchis’ previously released music, incorporating funk, R&B, and reggaeton into each song. This album’s sound is very dreamy and psychedelic with groovy beats. There is a definite vintage feel to the record; however, its pop undertones and unique genre blends create a youthful and unique sound that appeals to a wide variety of listeners.

This album, unlike her previous EP “Por Vida,” draws significantly from her experiences as the daughter of immigrants and as a young woman in the music industry.  In the song “Miami” featuring rapper BIA, Uchis sings about her experiences living in both Columbia and the United States while having great aspirations.

A large portion of the song is spent discussing how women are treated in the music industry and how they are not taken as seriously as their male counterparts. This song is very much about Uchis’ refusal to be dismissed and how she achieved her ambitions through hard work. Rapper BIA’s somewhat gritty verse on the track juxtaposes nicely not only with Uchis’ melodic voice but the hazy sounding music.

Her verse adds a nice flare to the song and contributes to the piece’s interesting sound. The lyrics are empowering, and the slow, dramatic tone of the song captures the vibe of Miami making the listener feel as if they are driving in the city on a hot summer evening.“Just A Stranger” featuring Steve Lacey, who co-produced the song with KO alumnus Romil Hemnani, talks about a strong young woman with ambitions and is definitely a reflection of Uchis.

The song also discusses themes of wealth, fame, and brushing off critics. The sound on this song is layered with a groovy bassline and bouncy dance beats that give it a very playful sound. Despite the more upbeat tone in the music the dreamy synth and airy background vocals continue the surreal vibe of the album. One of my personal favorites on the album is “After The Storm” featuring both Bootsy Collins and Tyler, The Creator. The song itself is encouraging those going through bad times to just hold out because good things are to come. The sound of the song seems to be heavily influenced by Bootsy Collins’ funk style and is one of the more vintage sounding pieces. The bassline sounds as if it’s been cut straight from a 70s funk track and the synth adds a surreal feel. Tyler, The Creator’s verse adds a modern hip hop vibe to the song while not straying completely from the retro sound. Like BIA’s verse in “Miami,” Tyler’s verse is done tastefully and really embellishes the song.

For those who liked Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” (which actually was heavily inspired by and similar in sound to Bootsy Collins’ “I’d Rather Be With You”) I strongly recommend listening to “After The Storm.”

“Isolation” is by far Uchis’ best work yet, and it’s only her first LP. Each song on the album is consistently great not only because of Uchis’ dreamy vocals but also because of the retro-futuristic tone, the well-done features by other artists, and the content in Uchis’ lyrics. It’s very clear that Uchis has much more to say in her music than the average pop singer, and her incorporation of many old and new genres creates an innovative sound that’s sure to impress audiences.