Kali Uchis Isolation Review

WRITTEN BY: Rita Thompson

Friday April 6th was a huge day for music and it was definitely difficult to spread my time between album drops from Kali Uchis, Flatbush Zombies, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Alina Baraz, and so many more. However, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the long anticipated Kali Uchis album, Isolation. The Colombian R&B singer pushed her foot into the door music industry in 2012 with her D.I.Y mixtape, Drunken Babble, and continued slammed it open in 2015 with the release of her debut EP, Por Vida; straying completely from the talk-rap style on Drunken Babble, and focusing on her smooth vocals and dreamy beats. After finding myself so intrigued by the sounds of Por Vida, and seeing Uchis in concert this past October, I couldn’t wait to hear what she would do with her upcoming project, Isolation.

Before full album release, the singles “Tyrant,” “After the Storm,” and “Nuestro Planeta” stirred excitement from day-one supporters, as well as new fans. These killer tracks showcased not only Kali’s unique sound, but featured verses from Jorja Smith, Tyler the Creator, columbian chart-topper Reykon and, perhaps most impressively, Bootsy Collins. All three songs were immediately captivating and my anticipation for the album grew even stronger after seeing the list of insane top of the line artists that Isolation would feature.

The first track, produced by Thundercat, draws listeners in with it’s seductive flute riff and, of course, Kali’s equally seductive voice. “Body Language – Intro” was a great peak into the sultry sounds that what were to come. This was the perfect song to draw listeners in as the repeated lyrics “just come closer, closer, closer” felt like a literal invitation to keep listening. The third track, “Just a Stranger” provides a slightly more upbeat, dancey sound than we’d usually get from Kali, with writing help and vocals from Steve Lacy. Lacy is another up and coming star and if this collaboration is any representation of futures hits, we’re in for some damn good music. This song showcased Kali’s versatility and proved she could definitely produce a potential radio hit. As the album progresses, the tracks, features, and production just get better and better. Some standouts to make sure to check out are are “Miami,” “In my Dreams,” and “Tomorrow.”  

“Miami” featuring BIA is the hidden gem of the album. After listening to a few of BIA songs and not being particularly impressed, her rap feature on this song had the exact opposite effect. The two artists created a sick blend of rap, pop, reggaeton all in 4 minutes and 4 seconds. I foresee this song turning into one of the most played hits on the album as it is simple enough to be a hit, yet interesting enough for music critics to enjoy. Personally, I’m surprised this wasn’t released as a single.  

“In my Dreams” and “Tomorrow” both showcase what I believe to be the most impressive part of this album; Uchis’ ability to sound amazing in collaboration with literally any producer. She collaborated with Damon Albarn of The Gorillaz for a second time this year, on “In My Dreams.” The song is lyrically dark, telling the story of Kali’s dreamlife where “mama’s never on coke” and “he’s never messing around,” yet still sticks to the distinct synth-pop sound of the Gorillaz. “Tomorrow” was the song I was most excited to hear as it is produced by Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, one of the coolest, most innovative bands around right now. Without a lot of recent music coming out from Tame Impala, this collaboration gave them the opportunity to not only satisfy their current fans, but gain new listeners from Kali’s fan base as well. “Tomorrow” was insanely smooth track and Parker’s ear for a refreshing psychedelic, yet disco production could not have blended better with Uchis’ naturally funky sound.

Even after listening the albums entirety of 15 songs, the single “After the Storm” proved to be the most memorable. I mean, how could you expect anything less than a hit from a song produced by BADBADNOTGOOD with verses from Bootsy Collins, and Uchis’ long time friend and collaborator, Tyler the Creator. The immediately alluring instrumental and relatable, positive lyrics make me believe this song will be appreciated by listeners of all different ages, genre preferences. The album finishes out with “Killer,” written in when she was just 17 based on her struggle through a five year long harmful relationship, and eventual escape from the toxicity. “Killer” proved to be the perfect ballad to show off Uchis’ talent without all the fancy production of previous tracks, as well as close out the album.

Overall, Isolation could not have been a better debut for Kali Uchis. Hearing her ability to blend into any genre, and beats from such a wide array of distinct producers made it impossible to resist, and even more impossible to forget.

 

You can check out Isolation on Spotify, Apple Music, and many other streaming services.

Track List:

  1. Body Language (Intro)
  2. Miami feat. BIA
  3. Just a Stranger feat. Steve Lacy
  4. Flight 22
  5. Your Teeth in My Neck
  6. Tyrant feat. Jorja Smith
  7. Dead to Me
  8. Nuestro Planet feat. Reykon
  9. In My Dreams
  10. Gotta Get Up (Interlude)
  11. Tomorrow
  12. Coming Home (Interlude)
  13. After the Storm (feat. Tyler, the Creator and Bootsy Collins)
  14. Feel Like a Fool
  15. Killer