Album Review: Kali Uchis’ Isolation (2018)

kaliKali Uchis masters the art of collecting her thoughts in a lush jazz soundscape, typically an intangible skill to reach.

Top Tracks: Flight 22, Dead To Me, In My Dreams, After The Storm

Rating: 8.5/10


By: Jackie Reed

On April 6, Kali Uchis released her debut album Isolation (2018). The Columbian-born singer shines above her Alexandria, Va. upbringing. Instead of hiding her identity in the suburbs, Isolation remains as a vulnerable narrative characterizing what Uchis has, what she wants, and what she’s capable of.

Thundercat-produced single “Body Language – Intro” is a flute-heavy jazz number that initially invites listeners to dive in and hear Uchis out. Following the intro is fourteen other tracks, posed as either a memory, a full feature story, or a temporal feeling.

“Miami” feat. BIA is a sensual piece lathered in textured drums and a soulful attitude, similar to singers Lana del Rey and Amy Winehouse. However, the dark soul mood falls short and is instead replaced with more empowering tracks. Singles like “Just A Stranger” feat. Steve Lacy and “Tyrant” feat. Jorja Smith embrace emotions that are rather fleeting and in the moment.

Uchis succeeds in balancing short-lived pleasures with reflective anecdotes – take the velvet audio piece “Flight 22”, the remixed “Dead To Me”, and Tame Impala’s production “Tomorrow”. She juxtaposes raw lyrics with meticulous synth action and a generally upbeat pop tone.

Along with vocalizing her thoughts on running away, dealing with family and lovers, and monetary needs, all of this is intended to be reasons for moving forward. “After The Storm” feat. Tyler, The Creator and Bootsy Collins reinforces the idea that life goes on. For Uchis, this hopeful bop addresses how temporary distressing matters really are.

All in all, Kali Uchis produced a collaborative album that deserves immense recognition from music critics today. An ultimate step up from her mixtape Drunken Babble (2012) and Por Vida-EP (2015), it’s a mesmerizing album driven by bi-lingual lyricism, genre-bending undertones, complex soundbites, and an offbeat-yet-glamorous style. The fifteen-song listicle is easy listening to the ear, yet challenging to the mind.

Feature Photo By (Kali Uchis/Facebook). 

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