From relationships to maintaining a career to societal pressures, Kali Uchis’ album Isolation covers it all. Not only are the songs applicable to your own life, but they also have incredibly catchy melodies that support her unique voice. The album was released nearly a year ago, but after going to her concert in October and seeing some of these songs performed live, I dove even farther into her music. Seeing her own interpretations of the music made me want to go back and listen to her album with more depth.
In no particular order, some of my favorite songs on Uchis’ newest album are “Tomorrow,” “Killer,” “Tyrant” and “Your Teeth In My Neck.” Each of these has a strong message and individual sound that made me feel the need to share her album. Working with many different artists and producers, such as Bootsy Collins, Jorja Smith and Tyler, the Creator might be the reason the tracks on this album all sound quite different. The songs also don’t revolve around one theme, creating an opportunity to have many different conversations about her music.
This song feels a bit whimsical but has an important message about having to work hard to survive and doing whatever it takes to succeed – even working at 13. This is a harsh reality many people go through, and it’s fascinating that Uchis managed to capture that experience in an album where there isn’t really a theme of any kind.
When you think of the worst heartbreak of your life, do you think of the person as a “killer?” The lyrics of this song show the pain of a relationship where one partner took advantage of the other’s trust and love. The slower melody and repetition of the line “That makes you a killer” indicate sadness and longing for the relationship to have been better. It’s powerful and makes you feel like you can relate, even if you haven’t experienced heartbreak.
An incredible amount of music is about the failure of relationships. Sometimes it’s not you, it’s me. Other times it is you and not me. I understood “Tyrant” to be about a power struggle in a relationship. In this case, it’s their fault and not hers. Uchis writes to her former love about their intentions with the power they tried to take in the relationship. Despite the confusion the song conveys, it’s clear she realized the person didn’t have good intentions. Her songs are about the pain she has experienced, but are empowering because she has realized the relationships went wrong for reasons out of her control.
“Your Teeth In My Neck”
This song is upbeat, which is interesting considering the serious message it communicates. With lyrics like, “Some people worship diamonds and pearls, silver and gold / Just to hold it, they’d give anything in the world / Kill us all off, they’d take our worth, they pay us dirt,” the song is about working hard but not getting what you deserve. The fast-paced nature of the track matches the fast-paced nature of trying to succeed in an industry, like music, where people are constantly competing to be on top. The title, “Your Teeth In My Neck,” also creates intrigue, because it suggests that Uchis is at the mercy of someone else deciding whether her career will succeed. The subtle jabs at her own industry make this song one of the most fun to listen to because we don’t hear about the inner workings of the music industry from artists themselves very often.
Despite there not being any one theme, the different genres of songs don’t feel incompatible with each other. Instead, the different sounds work together to create the distinctive blend other artists might try to avoid. You never get bored because the songs change pace and genre consistently. You never know what to expect from the next song, making Isolation one of the most interesting and rewarding albums to listen to right now.