Hailing from the Colombian highlands, Kali Uchis is potentially one of the most anticipated up-and-comers for the past couple of years. Now, with the release of her debut record, “Isolation,” I couldn’t help but reflect on how far she’s come.
We first got a taste of Uchis’ stylings with her debut extended play, “Por Vida.” In this record, she sings and doo-wops her way through tracks that have clearly been influenced by hip-hop, rhythm and blues and dream pop. She also draws inspiration from Colombian reggaetón and the Spanish language.
Uchis first garnered attention through collaborations with Tyler, the Creator on songs like “See You Again” and later with her third single off her new album, “After The Storm.” Announcing her album in the larger-than-life style she is known for, she unveiled the cover and title during a performance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
I could not contain my excitement as I opened Spotify to find out if the record was really worth the hype. The satin curtains open wide during the first track and invite the listener into a suave and sexy journey through this record. The first hums and flute notes of “Body Language – Intro” enwrapped me in a smooth euphoria. The song gets your attention and teases you, promising that Uchis is just warming up.
Then “Miami” comes on, and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. The opening anthem is so special with its flutes and ’70s vibe, that what follows just doesn’t live up to the expectations set by its predecessor. Sonically, “Miami” definitely fits the sultry aesthetic. But the depressing tempo kills the mood. It’s like the song wants to go fast but is held back by Uchis’ vocals.
The songs that proceed are almost as hot as the introduction, but ultimately feel inadequate either because of boring lyrics or an oversaturation of the artificial instrumentation I find makes pop music so unappealing.
But when you hear the first notes of “Dead to Me,” a joyous energy washes over you. The songs that follow channel that same smoothness that start the album, and keep to a pace that is invigorating and inspiring. The tight chords and jazzy vocals of “Killer” bring the album to a satisfying close, despite any previous dissonance in the lyricism or sounds.
Kali Uchis was born to a working-class family in Pereira, Colombia. No matter how much the album meets expectations, it means so much to novice Latin artists like myself that someone with her background is really making her come-up. She brings Spanish lyrics and Latin culture to the fore, and that’s what matters most. Truly, Uchis is the hero she describes in the chorus of “After the Storm.”
Email Alejandro Villa Vásquez at [email protected]