¿Y tu que pensaste? ¿Que yo me iba a echar a morir? La venganza es dulce, sabes
(Did you really think that I was going to let myself die? Revenge is sweet, you know)
Image credit: Amber Asaly, Sacks & Co
The first track, ‘la luna enamorada’, sets out Kali Uchis’s vision for her second studio album. Both of its verses are direct references to songs by 70s Latino pop groups, Los Zafiros from Cuba and Los Terrícolas from Venezuela. In this way, Kali contextualises the long history of pop music that she is a small part of. Similarly, the song ‘que te pedí’ is a cover of a song most famously performed by La Lupe, another iconic Cuban chanteuse. With a very humble approach to her music, Kali points to the past and says: “there are so many different levels to ‘Latin music’ that people don't recognize. I wanted to represent the best I could.”. From these bolero vibes filled with melodramatic lyrics and stories of loneliness, to unrequited love and rejection which could totally play during the opening credits of a James Bond movie (‘vaya con dios’ is the song that I’m thinking about here), Kali Uchis does a full 180 with songs like ‘aquí yo mando’, ‘la luz’ or ‘préndelo’. These I can imagine hearing at the next party that I go to (you know, circa 2025) that fall into the reggaeton category. This unexpected turn caught many by surprise and led to accusations on social media of Kali ‘selling herself’ to the music industry . The stigma around this genre has generated some backlash, shaped by its associations with youth culture, Latin American culture and shallow (even if sometimes true) accusations of misogyny. Be that as it may, Kali Uchis’ embrace of her sexuality and her Hispanic fanbase are entirely positive from my point of view.
However, perhaps the only thing better than the message of the album is the totally unique sound of ‘Sin Miedo’. To begin with, Uchis’ voice is unmistakable, with perfect diction in both Spanish and English. The Spanish guitar is played more like a harp than what we’re used to hearing; instead of playing the same base chords, the guitar accompanies and builds the melody, making it sound more like a duet than music by a solo artist. The bass behaves in a similar way and brings yet another layer of texture and richness to the sound of ‘Sin Miedo’, acting as a contrast for Kali’s high register and creating the effect of a man singing with her. The recognizable retro sounds of synths and sound effects give that vinyl feel, but accompanied by some more unique vintage sounds, like a specific way of playing the trumpet and the harmonic that a lot of listeners will vaguely relate to the sound of mariachi.
Overall, the album has a very baroque feeling to it (and I mean this in the best way possible, minimalism is overrated!). The songs are textured with a lot of different melodies, tones and moods. ‘Sin Miedo’ offers such a diversity of content, references and rhythms that I don’t know what you are waiting for… go listen to it!
Photo credit: Sacks & Co
Edited by Emma Short, Music Editor