When asked about the process which went into the making of her debut album, prior to it’s release, Kali Uchis shared how she is a fan of “intuitive writing.”
“It can come from anywhere” she says, “I’ll wake up from a dream and put something into my voice notes for later.” She shared how her creativity sparks in the some of the most profound areas like while she is “in water” taking a bath or “in the air” on plane rides.
Both of these scenarios, that not only work to symbolize the way her music tends to make listeners feel, serve to show how her life has changed from once living in a car at the age of 17 to now the glowing lavishness which is at the forefront of her lifestyle. Uchis has released her highly anticipated full-length project titled Isolation, and on it she takes on the task of establishing her versatility and ability to embed a variety of sounds into one album.
Uchis carries a nimble, soft spoken persona, but what she does not say in interviews resonates loudly through her music. On Isolation’s opening track, “Body Language (Intro),” she explores the intimacy of a tropical jazz, invoking the daydream state which lingers through a day on the beach.
Uchis’ lush voice pierces through the sensuality of the opener as she urges listeners to minimize the distance, singing “Just come closer, closer, closer, closer, closer/(I wanna know who you are)” and so, she invites us to explore the emotions which she has kept in confinement.
What separates Uchis’ unique sound is the way she embraces her Colombian roots in a majority of her songs. This is prevalent in singles off the album such as “Nuestro Planeta” or “Tyrant,” in which artist like Reykon and Jorja Smith accompany Uchis over poppy rhythms that are reminiscent of reggaeton, which serve as backdrops to the dance music. Not only does she shine a light in a way which raises her cultural awareness but Uchis uses Isolation almost as a soundtrack which excels in unveiling the scenes of her life.
With “Miami,” Uchis taps into the April March sound which is evocative of her appreciation for Quentin Tarantino’s Western induced sounds and she meshes it with synth-speckled instrumentals. Uchis’ magnificent storytelling gives one a glance into her movielike lifestyle.
“In My Dreams” sounds like the kind of quirky song cued to play at a dance in the ’80s. The low-tempo romance serenade, “Flight 22,” could play at the eye-to-eye, love at first glance moment.
The bona fide collaborations on Isolation make for indubitably stellar alliances. “Just A Stranger” is the type of combination which takes two profuse vocalists and makes for a rich, funky track. Steve Lacy compliments Uchis in a perfect way as the two sing the money over love ballad and is a standout production by BROCKHAMPTON’S Romil. “Tomorrow” channels the R&B psychedelia which Uchis’ is fondly known for and Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker is magnificent at the control panel guiding the singer through the toxic swirl which is his production. Although titled Isolation, Uchis does well in reaching out for direction from immaculate contributors.
Aside from the number of partnerships made throughout the album they only serve to showcase Uchis’. Uchis is empowering on her lonesome and swiftly glides through the clear waves of instrumentation which she rides eloquently. “Your Teeth In My Neck” exemplifies Uchis’ ability to utilize up-tempo orchestration. On “Feel Like A Fool” she demonstrates a vintage sound which triggers nostalgia to the doo-wop sound which could sneak its way into compilation of Motown classics.
Isolation captures Kali Uchis’ relentless ability to venture into an amalgamation of different musical domains. With Uchis, it is difficult to pinpoint with what sound she finds the most success. Nonetheless, it is not an overbearing element on her behalf, but rather, it showcases her talents. Similar to a film soundtrack, this project gathers a variety of songs which can be implemented for an abundance of feelings. There is no one single type of sound, yet the cohesiveness remains intricate. For whatever situation that comes in Uchis’ path, this protagonist proves to be at the center of the spotlight in each moment.