KAINA - It Was a Home Music Album Reviews

KAINA - It Was a Home Music Album Reviews
On her soulful second album, Chicago singer-songwriter Kaina Castillo reconciles childhood memories and future dreams with the hard work of getting through today.

Kaina Castillo’s music focuses on the machinations of identity and love. The Chicago-born Guatemalan-Venezuelan artist’s 2019 debut Next to the Sun deconstructed the complexities and inner turmoils of life as a first-generation Latina with immense vulnerability and clarity. As she moved through elements of R&B, Latin jazz, indie pop, and soul, Next to the Sun’s stark lyricism and resounding vocals revealed an artist speaking to the purgatory woman of color face simply for existing: the expectation to perform labor for others despite holding less power over their autonomy. KAINA’s refreshing take on the personal as political refused to be watered down or made palatable, a reflection of someone unapologetically working through societal projections with the stylistic tools other artists of color have long labored for.

That will to remain open defines KAINA’s second album, It Was a Home. Produced by KAINA with fellow Chicagoan Sen Morimoto and boosted by collaborations with Sleater-Kinney and Helado Negro, It Was a Home is a soothing progression from her debut and a soulful ode to the city and the relationships that have nourished KAINA’s life. Using the sonic and visual repertoires of her childhood as a guiding force, KAINA contemplates new ways of healing, calling upon the time-honored medicine of love and self-acceptance.

Much of KAINA’s mythologizing around love is rooted in her reckoning with community. Bringing to mind Solange’s When I Get Home, KAINA conjures up imagery of people and places of her life that feel foundational to the record’s spirit. In the video for album closer “Golden Mirror”—a jazzy curtain call reminiscent of Jessie Ware’s “Remember Where You Are”—KAINA invites friends into a dreamy recreation of her home, decked out in the brilliant palettes of childhood favorites like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street. As the group embraces and eventually heads out to perform the song onstage, KAINA invites local artists like NNAMDÏ to join in what eventually becomes a family affair, repeatedly singing the irresistible hook: “Love can feel like an illusion/But I see it everyday.”

Whether through colorful interiors or animated plants, It Was a Home’s visual and sonic indulgences play to a childlike wonder that honors KAINA’s past and future idealizations. On the title track, KAINA pays homage to the apartment where her family lived for 16 years while incorporating the Motown sounds her parents played on repeat. “And that little room/In the middle house/Is not the way I remembered/It was a home,” she sings, surrounded by production reminiscent of Al Green or Jackson 5. But she leaves room to critique memory as well. “That song is about, you know, feeling so small in a space or feeling like you might not reach the next thing, but sometimes you’re missing that beautiful moment right in front of you,” she recently told NPR. A song like “Casita” functions as a response: Coming towards the end of the record, “Casita” calmly blends Latin rock and classic R&B sounds to evoke the home she hopes someday to inhabit—almost as if tapping into a familiar formula will make these dreams a reality.

As much dreaming and recollecting is done on It Was a Home, KAINA also succeeds at addressing her well-being. Rather than dwelling on factors outside one’s own control, she homes in on the stillness of a moment in larger conversations around oppression. Tracks like “Sweetness” or “Good Feeling” unspool like self-affirming mantras: “I could give a little sweetness,” KAINA reflects on “Sweetness,” even as she laments the isolation and exhaustion of work. On “Blue,” Helado Negro’s Roberto Carlos Lange joins in for an assured meditation on the value of rest. Lange’s syrupy voice drips all over Castillo’s alto rasp as they embrace inertia as essential to recharging one’s relationship with the world.

While it’s refreshing to see KAINA develop into an even more confident artist—making strides at her own pace—there are moments on It Was a Home that could be more daring. Take the record’s most hazy and experimental track, “Friend of Mine.” As it fades out, her voice submerges into the song and recedes out of sight. At this moment, Castillo sounds somewhere in the territory of L’Rain’s Fatigue or Xenia Rubinos’ Una Rosa, and the distant undulations of her vocals pass like clouds across It Was a Home’s bright sky. KAINA’s intentions proudly lead elsewhere on this record, but these experimental moments are exciting nonetheless, and deserve further development.

By allowing herself to feel the full weight of her traumas and insecurities, KAINA is able to address them with the care and imagination learned from her community, educators, and the legacies that precede her. It Was a Home succeeds best when KAINA is at her most carefree, even if she recognizes there’s a long way to go. “When it all goes astray/Gotta just laugh about it,” she sings on the whimsical “Apple.” Every song and image on the record harkens back to some aspect of KAINA’s life, whether it’s the late-night salsa parties her parents threw growing up, the Black feminist thought she’s studied as an adult, or something as small and ordinary as an apple. These memories, ideas, and objects embed themselves into the grooves of her music, a balm for her and anyone who comes to join.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
KAINA - It Was a Home Music Album Reviews KAINA - It Was a Home Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on March 25, 2022 Rating: 5


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