ALBUM OF THE WEEK
When Kali Uchis describes her third album as an outpouring of “divine femininity”, it’s hard to know if she’s referencing her own sensuality or paying tribute to cherished influences. From the theatre of La Lupe, the romance of Selena, or the no-nonsense reggaeton of Ivy Queen, the Colombian-American has always borrowed lovingly from Latin American idols to recreate herself in some version of their image; the immaculate eyeliner and sweetheart necklines masking more human frailties.
If Uchis were a god, though, she’d probably make a vengeful one. Red Moon in Venus simmers with talk of karma, drama and retribution. Opener ‘I Give You Roses’ may sound like a loving send-off, but tucked among magnanimous overtures are side-notes about bee stings, thorns, and the barbed line “I wish you roses – while you can still smell them”. Uchis may be gracious, but she’s no pushover.
Besides divine inspiration, there are flesh-and-blood cameos contributing to the record’s velvety R&B. Fellow femme triste Summer Walker drops by for ‘Deserve Me’, their vocals twinned in contempt for a manipulative boyfriend. Her real-life partner Don Toliver appears on ‘Fantasy’, a devotional prayer to their relationship. “Stay on me like jewellery,” she begs, her own allure channelled first and foremost; the man a pretty trinket.
The record’s lavish, languorous quality is interrupted only by spoken interludes. ‘Hasta Cuando’ sees her grit her teeth in resignation as she deals with a still-obsessed ex. “Everybody hates me,” she sighs. “Please don’t ask me about no old shit.” In ‘Moral Conscience’ she abandons her usual restraint to vent a shriek of frustration in the upper end of her register. The flipside to all that self-love is having to sustain it in the face of other people’s antagonism.
But all energies realign for ‘Moonlight’, which captures Uchis’ anticipation getting ready for a late-night drive, a lipsticked “dolly” admiring her own reflection. A doll brought unapologetically to life as she cruises into the night; stomping at the clutch in candy-floss mules, her man quietly relegated to the passenger seat. Divine.
Please support Loud And Quiet if you can
If you’re a fan of what we do, please consider subscribing to L&Q to help fund our support of new musicians and independent labels
You can make a big difference for a few pounds per month, and in return we’ll send you our magazines, exclusive flexi discs, and other subscriber bonus bits and pieces
Try for a month and cancel anytime