In Review: Kali Uchis - Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios) ∞

A vocal opponent of Latin music's gentrification, Uchis' first outright Spanish album reaffirms her oft-praised refusal to be defined by things as pedestrian as genre, seamlessly swerving from slow Latin jazz to psychedelia to R&B with emotive, dignified poise.
Posted: 25 November 2020 Words: Isaac Bartels

Deep in the recesses of the internet, there exists fascinating footage of Kali Uchis in a music studio. Speaking through gasping sobs, she explains, “I was writing some shit, and it was just so deep, like… why am I such a good writer?” 

Taken out of context, the clip makes for perfect reaction material on Twitter. But there’s a deeper truth told here. Uchis has never shied away from the drama of her storytelling. The final track of lights-out debut Isolation sees her brand a sour boyfriend as a ‘Killer.’ It’s remarkable, then, to see the outpouring of emotion from that raw clip evoked with such enigmatic, dignified poise come recording time.

Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios) ∞ - Without Fear (of Love and Other Demons) - achieves this very result. The naked vulnerability of opener ‘la luna enamorada’ sounds paradoxically intimidating. Sung entirely in Spanish (as is much of the album), Uchis tells of her lover’s "fascination, revelation that enraptures." After hearing the airy range of her soprano in previous releases, Sin Miedo captures the singer’s downright stunning contralto. Pointed backing vocals contrast luxuriously with the long, sumptuous phrases of her lower register. Every roll of the tongue punctuates the aching subterranean ranges of her voice.

Breezing lightly yet meaningfully through styles, the album confirms Kali’s oft-praised refusal to be defined by things as pedestrian as genre. The swerves from slow Latin jazz to R&B are as seamless as they are unexpected. 

While Uchis is one to tease with her vocal delivery, she outright demands control in the filthy ‘¡aquí yo mando! (Here I Command).’ “I make the decisions, I choose the positions; you can have the balls, but I get the pants” she sings with sweet authority. This immersion into urbano is a fantastic callback to her previous statements on the gentrification of reggaetón: “make sure the people who have actually been doing it for a long time are the ones who are being put to the forefront for their talents, and not just people who trying to ride this sudden trend of being Latin.” If you want a job done right, do it yourself, and Uchis teams up with reggaetón juggernauts Jowell & Randy and Jhay Cortez to prove her point.

Not to be outdone by her lower register, Uchis soars on the psychedelia of ‘vaya con dios (Go With God).’ Dusty snares and distorted guitar pierce the restrained squeal of her soprano range. The level of vocal control throughout the album is unlike anything Uchis has ever done before. Here, her skills as a vocalist are irrevocably unquestionable.

Closer ‘ángel sin cielo (Heavenless Angel)’, written and self-produced, is Uchis’ best mission statement for both her album and artistry. It’s equal parts heavenly and sinister. Respect her. Be wary of her. Most importantly, keep your eyes on Kali Uchis.

Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios) ∞ is out now via Interscope / Virgin EMI.

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