Album Review: Kali Uchis’s “Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)∞”

“Sin Miedo” is an ebbing collage of Latin music, drawing inspiration from the ‘90s and 2000s.

Kali Uchis exploded onto the scene collaborating with Tyler, the Creator on hit songs like “See You Again” and “After the Storm,” and people were intrigued by her unique voice and style. Her success only increased with the release of her first studio album “Isolation.” The smooth rhythm and blues album featured collaborations with the likes of Steve Lacy, Jorja Smith, and Reykon, a record that showed Uchis’s knack for building an aesthetically and sonically cohesive project. This talent has carried over to 2020’s “Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)∞,” a project that sees Uchis blend the R&B crooning she’s known for with reggaeton’s hard-hitting dembow. 

The album begins with the slow and harmonious “la luna enamorada,” on which Uchis sings about the moon. The Colombian-American singer has flirted with Latin-influenced music before, collaborating with Reykon on “Nuestro Planeta” off of “Isolation” and her 2019 single “Solita.” The slow-paced cumbia instrumental that underlies “la luna enamorada” gives it this Latin flair, one that is weaved throughout the project as a whole. Almost immediately after the intro track, the listener is hit with the fast-paced, hi-hat heavy trap song “¡aqui yo mando!” featuring Rico Nasty. In this song, Uchis sings about being the one who wears the pants in the relationship, and letting her lover know that he’s at her service — not the other way around. The track sees Uchis and Nasty relish in their independence: “I’m in charge here / if you want with me, get used to it.” She’s making it known that she won’t tolerate being treated with anything less than the reverence and respect she deserves. Nasty’s feature is a standout, delivering her lines in a steady rhythmic manner that follows the ebb and flow of the instrumental. She even ventures to try her hand at Spanish, easily making for one of Rico Nasty’s most memorable verses.

Kali Uchis delivers the perfect long-distance relationship song with “telepatia.” Crooning over a smooth synth with the playful line “La luna está llena, y mi cama vacía” (the moon is full, but my bed is empty). Uchis’s songwriting is on full display in this track, expressing both physical and emotional desires through lines like “Quien lo diria / que se podría / hacer el amor por telepatia.” Her delivery on this song is reminiscent of the “Isolation” era, but not in a regressive manner. It’s clear that Uchis is able to draw on what’s worked for her in the past without being stagnated or held back by the sounds of her previous projects.

The track “te pongo mal(prendelo)” sounds like a reggaeton hit from the early 2000s in all the best ways. A pulsating dembow backs Uchis’s melodic singing as she talks about seducing a lover. The track is exciting from the beginning, but it really picks up when Randy Nota Loca performs his verse. A reggaeton veteran, Randy sounds at home on this song as he goads the girl he’s involved with to get creative. The verse is marked by a back-and-forth between Randy and Uchis, making for a playful and memorable verse. The fourth verse sees Jowell (the second half of Jowell y Randy) spit a rhythmic verse about the things this girl makes him think about. “Te pongo mal” is a fun and sexy track that really lets Uchis’s beat-picking and versatility shine.

Despite the many standout tracks on “Sin Miedo,” it is not a perfect album. I found the second track “fue mejor” to have a promising beginning, but ultimately, it culminates with a forgettable verse from PARTYNEXTDOOR. There are no real bad songs on the project, but there is a notable gap in quality between songs like “te pongo mal” and “¡aqui yo mando!” compared to cuts like “vaya con dios.” It’s an exciting project that shows off Uchis’s ability to perform in Spanish, as well as her ear for instrumentals. Aesthetically, the project draws inspiration from late ‘90s and 2000s fashion, and it does a good job of reflecting that sonically. It’s an exciting step in Kali Uchis’s career, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Grade: B
Release Date: November 18, 2020

Image courtesy of Pitchfork.