In 2018, Kali Uchis released one of the most personality-filled R&B albums of recent memory with Isolation. This debut was filled with majestic and beautiful neo-soul/R&B anthems which showed so much potential for Kali to make something truly amazing in the future. She followed this up with an EP that was released earlier this year, TO FEEL ALIVE. That EP, to me, was enjoyable at first but it quickly lost its flavor as it was not nearly as replayable, chocked full of personality, or finished as her debut. These songs just struck me as quarantine demos with a production value that was slightly higher than most demos were. However, the lead-up to this album saw Uchis embracing her Latin roots more than she ever had before in her music with the lead single being the Spanish banger aquí yo mando. Then, she delved even further into this Spanish sound with the second single for this thing, the reggaeton inspired te pongo mal. Now, the record is finally here, and I can safely say that Kali is back after her disappointing last EP with a fresh Spanish-inspired sound.
While it’s still a Kali Uchis album at its core, Sin Miedo feels kinda like a rebirth for Kali. This record is mostly in Spanish with only a few passages and 2 of the features being the exception to this rule. However, the Spanish lyrics don’t take away from the album at all. In fact, the Spanish edge this album has gives it something to keep Kali’s style sounding new and refreshing. The Spanish influences don’t just stop at the lyrics, though, as there are a handful of reggaeton tracks at the end of this thing and, coming from someone who usually fucking hates reggaeton with a burning passion, I think Kali does the style pretty well. Most mainstream reggaeton tracks feature the same annoying and repetitive drum pattern with horrendously non-descript autotuned vocals, though Kali adds her personality to this sound and it works pretty well due to that. Not every single reggaeton track is a hit, but I came away enjoying multiple of them which is more than I can say I expected to enjoy.
However, this record is not Kali completely born anew. This record still sees Kali having a love for a pretty glamorous and majestic sound. The uniquely charming, cozy, mystical, and cinematic neo-soul sound she brought with her debut album is not completely gone here, only infused with these Spanish influences. Kali also doesn’t change up her vocals for a Spanish audience. She still sounds the same despite the changeup in her lyrical delivery. The features also don’t feel like a far cry from features Kali would pick on other albums. While there is no Tyler or Steve Lacy here, a Rico Nasty and Kali Uchis collaboration is long overdue and PARTYNEXTDOOR sounds uncharacteristically alive on his feature.
There were a few moments I wasn’t too keen on, though. There were a couple of tracks across this record that felt incredibly brief and didn’t really leave all too much of an impact on me. Tracks like que te pedi and la luna enamorada just feel a bit too brief to truly be super memorable. Alongside that, a few tracks feel a bit into the background and felt a bit standard for Kali Uchis. Plus, there were some moments with slowed-down vocals like the second half of de nadie or angel sin cielo and I wasn’t too huge on those moments. Still, if you are a Kali Uchis fan and can get passed the language barrier here, I think you will find a lot to love if you were also in the camp that found her last EP pretty underwhelming.
FAV TRACKS: fue mejor, aquí yo mando, vaya con dios, quiero sentirme bien, telepatía, no eres tu(soy yi), te pongo mal(prendelo)
LEAST FAV TRACK: de nadie