Kali Uchis hits the ground running with new album ‘Isolation’
Long anticipated has the 23-year-old’s debut album been, yet the wait has been every bit worthwhile. Featuring a plethora of star-studded collaborations from artists such as Tyler, the Creator, Jorja Smith and funk legend Bootsy Collins, the album is as variegated and diverse as it is cohesive, with Uchis’ signature self-assuredness and calm composure shining through on every track.
Born Karly-Marina Loaiza in Pereira, Colombia, Uchis was raised in Alexandria, Virginia, where her shining career in music began. Learning both the piano and the saxophone whilst in high school, Uchis first rose to prominence with the acclaimed mixtape ‘Drunken Babble,’ an agglomeration of reggae and R&B. In 2015, her first EP ‘Por Vida’ was released to further critical and commercial success, with its lead single ‘Sycamore Tree’ being used in a 2016 teaser for the prominent TV show ‘American Horror Story.’ Since then, her eminence has only grown, culminating in her most recent tour with world-renowned alternative artist, Lana Del Rey.
The album opens on the Bossa Nova masterpiece ‘Body Language.’ During a Reddit Q&A, when asked what the overarching theme of the album was, she replied ‘finishing your dry martini, enjoying views of the water as a beautiful woman dives in,’ and this track invokes exactly that image with the first beat drop. After that, the album flutters between genres through the hard-and-fast R&B track ‘Miami,’ the beat-driven collaboration with Steve Lacy ‘Just A Stranger,’ and the dreamy ballad ‘Flight 22.’ She flows through each medium with ease, rejuvenating it and making it her own as she goes. Pop hits like ‘Tyrant’ brush shoulders with the funk triumph ‘After the Storm’ and the Winehouse-esque closers ‘feel like a fool’ and ‘killer.’ There’s something for everyone on this album, yet at the end of it all, no matter your tastes in music, there will be only one name on your lips; ‘Kali Uchis.’
A 15-track album is no small project, and it’s often hard to keep an album of this duration cohesive and consistent, yet not only does Uchis pull it off, she does so effortlessly. Each song brings a new element to the album, and she knows exactly which strings to pull for maximum anticipation, whether it’s the dramatic beat change in ‘Coming Home,’ or the ‘oohs’ that slowly reverberate and come into focus at the beginning of ‘Dead to Me.’ Kali’s remarkable trait is her confidence – she has no qualms about telling people to go to hell if they make her unhappy. This dismissive attitude towards issues is what makes her music so refreshing, as it passes the ethos of confronting one’s problems rather than shying away from the listener, emboldening them in the process.
‘Isolation’ in this context represents believing in yourself more than anyone else does, not being afraid of being alone and being able to live without the people who drag you down. It is evident that Uchis employs these themes in ‘Isolation’ in her own life, which has no doubt only aided in her success thus far. Having a large role in every aspect of her music’s production, from the songwriting to the melodies to directing her music videos, this album is the vision of a woman who knows exactly what direction she’s going in, has her hands on the wheel, and is taking us along for a breathtakingly brilliant ride. ‘Isolation’ represents the birth of a legend and a very successful career in the forefront of music.