Patches of Uchis' romantic garden fail to blossom but experimentation prevails
Oliver Corrigan
10:35 17th November 2020

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Busying herself through the Covid-19 pandemic, the Colombian-American singer-songwriter Kali Uchis follows her breakthrough debut Isolation with an excavation of Spanish-speaking roots buried amongst some arduous romantics.

Perhaps it's every artist’s greatest fear to find themselves artistically devoid, stagnant and, worst of all, predictable. This is clearly no exception for Kali Uchis and her sumptuous blend of modern R&B along with the home comforts of reggaeton - which we’ve come to expect since her noteworthy debut of 2018.
However, conjured from the dormancy of lockdown just a few months ago, Uchis vibrantly affirmed some rejuvenated sounds - releasing ‘Aquí Yo Mando’ backed by the effervescent Rico Nasty as her willing sidekick. Oozing with colourful hooks, intricate vocal licks, as well as a dexterous handling of both English and Spanish throughout, Uchis sought after a vociferous redefinition.

Whilst her confident rhetoric of “Y si no gusta, ya otro está llamando” (‘And if you don’t like it, another is calling”) rang defiantly clear, the follow-up single of ‘La Luz (Fín)’ signalled a reversion back to her sensual R&B facade. Along with her delicately intimate vocal delivery, this exemplified a popularised spooning of modern R&B which has happily fed the Western masses through recent years.

Beyond her contemporaries, the first half of this sophomore project attempts to reveal a new layer in waiting. The warming, acoustic welcome of opener ‘La Luz’ transcends into the Arabic-style vocal inflections within ‘Aguardiente y Limón’ before abruptly arriving at a Portishead-esque comedown within ‘Vaya Con Dios’. It’s this experimentation which proves to be the most enticing facet of the LP’s first half - more so than the featured artists peppered throughout.

As we delve into the ground this storyline is built upon, however, the LP’s cracks widen. What begins as a flirtatious love affair between Uchis and a significant other, soon stagnates. Between the clichéd ‘No Eres Tu (Soy Yo)’ and the juxtaposing closer of ‘Ángel Sin Cielo’ the record exudes an ill-formed romantic storyline.

Amidst Uchis’ rushed romantic proceedings, the newly-founded linguistic nature of this Spanish-forged project gives space to another sort of prowess. The dexterity by which she flitters between both English and Spanish, particularly shown through ‘Aquí Yo Mando’ and ‘Quiero Sentirme Bien’, accentuates the growing popularity of the latter’s language in today’s mainstream releases. Away from the past generation of Shakira and Enrique Iglesias, we’re witnessing a greater crossover between these two worlds à-la The Weeknd, Cardi B, and Rosalía, to name a few. With today's music largely wrapped in a one-dimensional linguistic package, we can only commend Uchis’ knack for shedding light on a language which cuts much deeper than any articulation in English ever could.

During this writing process - pressed underneath the tribulations of this pandemic - Uchis  acclaimed herself as “liberated” eliciting “a whole new me”, which, to a certain extent, has been reflected in her latest body of work. Whilst many patches of Uchis' romantic garden fail to blossom, moments of musical experimentation prove greater than the sum of their parts. Uchis’ affirmation against predictability certainly rings true here, even against the lauded impressions on her debut LP of 2018 - with Sin Miedo showcasing a vocal and linguistic prowess which will vehemently uproot the West's English-driven love affair.

Sin Miedo (Del Amor Y Otros Demonios) ∞ arrives 18 November arrives UMG/EMI.

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Photo: Press