The Malta Independent 14 April 2024, Sunday
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Kali Uchis creates a languid, lush world of the divine feminine on 'Orquídeas'

Associated Press Monday, 29 January 2024, 13:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

On her fourth studio album, the largely Spanish-language "Orquídeas" ("Orchids" in English), Colombian American singer Kali Uchis ' ability to create lush sonic worlds reaches new heights.

Across her discography, Uchis' power has always been her fluidity: of culture, of genre, and of language, moving from Spanish to English in her sultry sounds about love, loss, and divination. On "Orquídeas," that spirit continues — these are self-possessed songs across a spectrum of heritages, made cohesive through her unique filter.

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The first single, "Muñekita" ("Little Doll"), is restrained reggaeton — speedy with her syrupy voice, hitting the listener like a strobe light interrupting a haze of smoke in a crowded club, further ornamented by the features from Dominican rapper El Alfa (the King of Dembow) and City Girls' JT.

The second is "Te Mata," ("It Kills You") a sexy bolero with Uchis' rasp reaching moments of deep, mournful elation. ("A mí me gusta que vean lo feliz que soy sin ellos," she intros the track about reclaiming autonomy after an unhealthy relationship. In English: "I like it when they see how happy I am without them.") In song, Uchis stretches her ability to modernize the most classic sounds, offering a ballad that is both fiercely contemporary and timeless.

These are vastly different works — exemplars of Uchis' range, the smoothness in which she approaches her chosen genres, a quality she learned after years of shaping her particular approach to alt-R&B.

Those singles aren't the only surprises: "Igual Que Un Ángel" ("Just Like An Angel"), which features corridos tumbados star Peso Pluma, is synth-pop; "Labios Mordidos" ("Bitten Lips"), which features Colombian superstar Karol G, is sapphic pleasure. "Dame Beso // Muévete" ("Give Me A Kiss // Move It") is vintage merengue.

In a press release for "Orquídeas," Uchis said she found inspiration in the "timeless, eerie, mystic, striking, graceful and sensual allure of the orchid," a fascination she's held since childhood. "I always felt distinctly intrigued and magnetized by the flower," she wrote, adding she wanted to "re-define the way we look at Latinas in music."

Across "Orquídeas," Uchis offers a new framework in which to consider her multitude of identities — by experimenting with a range of sounds and centering her femininity in both introspective songs and party-ready bangers.

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