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Kehlani - blue water road Music Album Reviews

Kehlani - blue water road Music Album Reviews
Kehlani’s most mature and thematically challenging album is steamy and committed, more eager than ever to bet it all on love. They’ve never sounded more comfortable in their own skin.

Kehlani opens “shooter interlude,” the third track from their latest album blue water road, by loudly clearing their throat. “And I’m keeping all this part, too,” they quickly add. On the surface, it’s an innocuous moment, a bump in the recording process. But the rawness of it—choosing to leave in a blemish, an outtake—sets the stage for honest reflection. Over a bed of swelling guitars, flutes, vocal harmonies, they parrot questions they’ve received from others over the years, voicing requests for money and unasked proposals of marriage. Their interlocutors check their ego (“Don’t forget the favors that I did for you”) while pleading for connection (“Can I come over later and can I overstay my welcome?”). This meta moment is exceptionally vulnerable: Kehlani grappling with other people’s perceptions of them in public. It’s a beating heart on the floor, even by the standards of an artist who’s no stranger to a messy breakup song.

Kehlani has always portrayed love as a kaleidoscope of feeling—the lust, the trauma, stabs at commitment that evaporate like JUUL vapors. In 2020, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t explored bad relationships and one-night stands with the efficiency of spring cleaning, assessing the damage on all sides. blue water road has its share of debauchery—the deep notes when they sing “Call me daddy in front of all your bitches in the lobby” on “any given sunday” are seduction incarnate—but the overall vibes are steamy and committed, more eager than ever to bet it all on love. Kehlani has never sounded more comfortable in their own skin, selling the transition from SweetSexySavage to grown, sexy, and tender. 

As opposed to the moodier atmosphere favored by artists like Summer Walker or 6LACK, blue water road has a bubbly tinge. The production, largely handled by executive producer Pop Wansel, is split between aqueous rap’n’b beats and guitar-centered pop arrangements. Even the tracks with a darker musical edge—like the strip-club love story “any given sunday”—are backed by synths and soft ad-libs that pop with champagne fizz. Kehlani’s vocal runs and rapping skill contribute to the lifted mood, expanding and contracting to the scope of each narrative. Their voice flits between the shuffling drums of the Slick Rick sample powering the angsty backseat lust of “wish i never” with the same conviction that drives the platonic remembrance of lead single “altar.” On “get me started,” Kehlani’s voice winds up and down a spiral of hi-hats and synths with hushed grace. Later, during the cheating anthem “more than i should,” their voice is sweet, forceful, moving in lockstep with the bassline.

Kehlani brings level-headed cool to this wide range of love stories, but blue water road is really impressive when it leans into the hopeless romantic hiding within the wounded player. As the album progresses, the backseat flings fade away in favor of sensual metaphors involving fruit and nights lost in their partner’s hair as they plan out a future together. “Being this close isn’t close enough,” they sigh on “melt.” They’ve always handled stories of tension and heartbreak with a delicate touch; it’s refreshing to hear that same care applied to a non-toxic companionship. Take the late-album highlight “everything,” which channels the anxiety and giddiness of a new relationship into one of the best performances of Kehlani’s career. In the song’s second verse, their voice bends around gossamer guitar licks to describe their partner’s attentiveness; the staccato bounce in the delivery of “I match your energy, match your fly perfectly/Lips lock intensively, want you extensively” flows like wine. On earlier albums, Kehlani’s cool façade felt like a defense against romantic uncertainty; now, in the throes of love, they’re unafraid to be endearing and just a little bit corny.

blue water road is Kehlani’s most mature album, as well as their most musically and thematically challenging. Its content is unabashedly queer—especially potent since this is their first release since publicly identifying as a lesbian—in a country bent on supressing non-conforming identities. It expands their sound palette into orchestral pop and easy listening that clash with the synthetic R&B and rap sounds fans have grown accustomed to. It chronicles a loose, nonlinear story that ends with love and comfort, just as the world is slowly coming back around to physical contact. But most importantly, it shows that for all the skin Kehlani has shed over the years, they haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.

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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.
Kehlani - blue water road Music Album Reviews Kehlani - blue water road Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 Rating: 5

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