Kali Uchis’ ‘Red Moon in Venus’ Is a Sexy, Sultry Missive With a Powerful Kick: Album Review
Not that anyone should define themselves by awards, but it’s telling that Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis has been nominated in three unusually far-reaching Grammy categories: R&B performance, dance recording and musica urbana abum, the latter for her sultry 2020 Spanish-language second full-length, “Sin Miedo (Del Amor Y Otros Demonios).” And in the 11 years since “Drunken Babble,” her awesomely titled first mixtape, Uchis has collaborated with Tyler, the Creator, SZA, Gorillaz, Snoop Dogg, Mac Miller, Steve Lacy, Rico Nasty, Kaytranada (their collaboration on “10%” scored her the Grammy dance win), and lots of others — but her biggest hit is her own “Telepatía,” which was the first song by a female solo artist to top Billboard’s Latin songs chart in almost a decade (and earned her the Crossover award at Variety’s 2021 Hitmakers).
But equally unusually, elements of all of the above are present in her sound — basically a combination of R&B, Latin, hip-hop and alt-pop, although the dance element is less prominent on her latest, “Red Moon in Venus.” It’s a lush, lavish, luscious hot tub of an album, conjuring visions of plush feather beds, fluffy pillows and bubble baths, although the lyrics will occasionally jolt the listener out of their chill: Witness “Hasta Cuando” — “Your girl talks shit about me just to feel better/ About the fact that you’re still obsessed with me years later/ At the end of the day, she’d eat my pussy if I let her”; and “Moral Conscious”: “One thing about karma, that bitch will find you.” Her voice might sound sweet, but Kali Uchis does not play.
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Where “Sin Miedo” was primarily sung in Spanish with occasional verses in English and a big contribution from superstar Latin producer Tainy, this one flips that lyrical formula and brings in a battery of collaborators: Omar Apollo, Summer Walker and Don Toliver each guest on a song apiece, and there’s a dozen-odd different producers: Josh Crocker returns for three, the team of Manuel Lara and Albert Hype helm two, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, Benny Blanco and Kendick Lamar vet Sounwave work on one each. But despite that polyglot team, the vibe and sound are diverse but unified: clearly Uchis herself is setting the tone and calling the shots.
There are plenty of references here — “Blue” is the best Sade song since the last Sade album (complete with a “Smooth Operator” sax in the distance), and “Love Between” has a ‘70s Philly soul vibe that recalls Silk Sonic’s retro fetish — but those are passing glances. Cliché as it sounds, despite the kick in the lyrics, “Red Moon in Venus” is a record for dimming the lights, lighting the candles and leaving on “repeat.”
, and her own hit “Telepatía” was the first song by a female solo artist to top Billboard’s Latin songs chart in almost a decade.
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