It brings me great joy to write on ORQUÍDEAS, the fourth studio album and second Spanish-language release from the queen, Kali Uchis. Kali’s angel wings landed in my life via a feature on the track “FUCKING YOUNG / PERFECT” for Tyler, The Creator’s Cherry Bomb (2015). Her sultry, glassy vocals caught my ears immediately, and I’ve been consuming every release and feature since then.
Colombian-American singer/songwriter Kali Uchis‘s diverse music collection exists in its own universe. She gave me the playground-bad bitch 2015 single “Ridin Round” when I was in high school, and the vulnerable, whimsical 2020 TO FEEL ALIVE EP when I was in college. I’d never (and still haven’t) heard a close replication to her signature voice, with its beautiful inflections and range. That reworked single, from its 2015 parent and debut album Por Vida, yields a sun and moon/yin-yang aura flowing through Kali’s entire career. No two albums or releases sound the same, from mix and production to vocals. She truly makes and breaks her own molds.
I’m playing her 2012 debut r&b-reggae mixtape, Drunken Babble, right now. Any artist’s sound is bound to expand throughout a 12-year career, but Kali’s works overflow with leveled-up energy between releases. Her pendulum swings in uncharted ways. The sample-heavy mixtape pulls from songs like Paul McCartney & Wings‘ 1973 track “Band On The Run” and Delegation‘s 1978 track “Oh Honey,” behind young Kali’s carefree lyrics. Her themes, lyrics and production reach beyond anything I can label simply as growth. Kali gifts experiences to us, sweetly wrapped in distinguishable sonic packages, and ORQUÍDEAS’ dance album energy holds just as many surprises.
Let’s unwrap it!!! Opening track “¿Cómo Así?” has a mellow entrance that feels like waking up in a field of flowers, showered in sunshine. The faded echoes and ethereal opening mirror her 2023 album Red Moon In Venus, until the beat picks up pace. Don’t fight the magnetic sync of your body with the beat. Kali entices us into her poised biome, knowing the power it holds: ‘Y no hay mucho que me impresiona / Yo vivo en su mente y es evidente.’ I’m always here for the unabashed awareness of her value and worth.
The transition into “Me Pongo Loca” is seamless, but establishes full instrumental independence from track one. Producers P2J, Sounwave, Austen Jux-Chandler, and Sammy Soso perfectly align tribal and Latin house mixes with Kali’s feminine, dreamy style for this track and my personal favorite, “Diosa.” She’s got a great team, and plenty of the contributing producers have worked with Kali in the past. More nods to the originality and progression of her technique.
At times, ORQUÍDEAS pays homage to Kali’s numerous eras. “Igual Que un Ángel” has twinkling sonic and lyrical themes reminiscent of the track “i want war (BUT I NEED PEACE),” from her 2020 TO FEEL ALIVE EP. Peso Pluma, Mexican singer and a champion in the corridos tumbados movement, features on this track in a perfect interplay with Kali’s saintly vocals. The soulful track “Heladito” has a retro-tinge like her 2015 album Por Vida, but lyrics like ‘Am I too much sugar for your sweet tooth, baby?‘ are more reflective of her signature swagger.
“Young Rich & In Love” has a hypnotizing sensuality, like a callback to Red Moon In Venus (2023). Those silky harp-like synths let your hips get carried away… and I’ll leave it at that. “Tu Corazón Es Mío…” continues with the lusty downtempo Kali curates in the middle of the album. The Latin percussion with subtle güiro brushes in the background create the most romantic slow dance tempo. ‘Tengo alguien que me ama / Esos besos a mí me ponen trabada / Despertando contigo todos los días by your side‘ is Kali’s sweet spritz of love surrounding her, her partner, and their blooming new life.
“Tu Corazón Es Mío…” doesn’t have a smooth transition into the next track, “Muñekita,” and I thought it was shoddy track placement at first. There’s a complete shift in the style of dance music for the remainder of the album. I should’ve had more faith in Kali and her team, because when I step back and look at all the tracks, they’re categorized by cohesive sonic themes. The tracks can be separated into groups depending on your mood, setting, or attitude. It’s an opportunity for listeners to enjoy the dynamic album as a unit or in slivers, which is really cool.
Verses on “Muñekita” from Dominican dembow hit El Alfa and the fiery confidence from JT makes an electrifying perreo anthem I’d blast while getting ready to go out with my bestie. Kali keeps up the sexy dancefloor energy on “Labios Mordidos.” With a feature from Colombian queen Karol G, the duo heats up the album in a sexual interplay as Kali sings, ‘Tu novia se pone loquita / Cuando yo llego.’ Hopefully your joints can handle the relentless high energy into “No Hay Ley Parte 2,” featuring Puerto Rican playboy (and my crush <3) Rauw Alejandro‘s blush-worthy lines next to Kali’s cheery chorus. Rauw’s feature and the reggaeton percussion elevate this re-worked single from 2022, which gave a teaser of the upbeat energy to expect on ORQUÍDEAS.
“Dame Beso // Muévete” is a dual-track sampling traditional Latin tempos to close with a bang, a perfect ending to the whirlwind album. ORQUÍDEAS is Colombia’s national flower, which also happens to be the flower of fertility, in perfect timing as an expecting mother. It’s beautiful imagery for what this album represents as I think about the timeline of her career and how she continues to blossom in new ways, in her own lane. Kali’s limitless creativity and commitment to her art is what fans have loved about her for so long. She’s put in the work to establish herself, her team, and partnerships. ORQUÍDEAS coming to fruition makes me so excited to see where Kali Uchis will bloom next.
Artist photo by Daniel Sannwald