Arts & Entertainment

ALBUM REVIEW: Kali Uchis’s ‘Orquídeas’ shows the emotional growth and joy that comes from loving and being loved

Kali Uchis’s newest album shows the artist’s growth and love for life as she experiences the joys of motherhood and a healthy relationship.

Having covered some R&B jams in my last review, I hope to continue sharing warmth through the music that I’ll be sharing in anticipation of this coming spring season. Luckily, us mortals were blessed with an absolutely amazing album by none other than the beautiful Kali Uchis.  

Karly Marina Loaiza, better known by her stage name, Kali Uchis, is an American singer and songwriter with Colombian roots. Having grown up spending equal time between Virginia and Pereira, Colombia, she made sure to take part in her culture’s traditions and keep them alive through her love of music. During high school, she learned how to play the piano and saxophone which led her to later join a jazz band.  

But Uchis didn’t intentionally set out to be a musician or singer. Instead, she focused on photography, skipping classes throughout the rest of her school experience just to compile photographs (which she later used as cover art for her debut mixtape, “Drunken Babble”). She was eventually kicked out of her home for her bad grades and rebellious demeanor, and spent this time living in a car, recording her first mixtapes and writing poetry.  

Ever since then, Uchis has become one of the world’s most well-known Latinx artists after having charted in the Billboard Hot 100 with her single “Telepatía” in 2020. In 2023, her third studio album “Red Moon in Venus” debuted within the top five Billboard 200.  

On the 12th of this month, Uchis’s fourth studio album dropped, titled “Orquídeas” (Orchids). This is her second Spanish-language album. Though there is still some English throughout, Spanish is the most prominent and perfectly meshes with some of the reggaetón and neo soul songs that she presented us with in this album.  

The album consists of 14 songs, and if listened to through a streaming platform like Spotify, every song is produced so that they blend into each other seamlessly. Heightening the listening experience, the album creates a perfect cacophony of Latin pop, soul, R&B and even some synth components. It is noticeable how Uchis wanted to create an album that encapsulated her heritage as well as encompassing the positive feelings relating to her recent and surprising pregnancy.  

Kali Uchis promoting the tracklist for her 2024 album “Orquídeas”. Via @kaliuchis on Instagram.

I’ll be focusing on a few of the songs that stuck with me and have been playing on repeat in my head since I heard them. “Pensamientos Intrusivos” (Intrusive Thoughts) speaks about the past, a lost love that felt like it went “round and round.” Disorienting, dizzying. As the fourth song in this album, I think it’s intentional that this is one of the first songs we experience when first listening to the album, setting the stage for what is to come.  

Though we know Uchis has long since moved on from past relationships, she still experiences these intrusive thoughts. More specifically, she describes these thoughts as a voice that bubbles up out of nowhere, leaving her to experience a “back and forth” between her own emotions. She knows these emotions lead nowhere, yet despite this, she claims that: “Many are afraid to fall in love, not me. Even though the world has broken my heart a million times, I gave you everything. Everything, my love.” Despite the heartache and pain, she has no fear. She has loved, and will continue to love.  

“Diosa” (Goddess) is a subtle reggaetón beat with floating synth chords. It speaks of a cherished, healthy relationship where the partner treats their “goddess” how she deserves, not just by spoiling her with gifts, but demonstrating this love through this worship of her entire being: body, mind and soul. What I love about this song is that it addresses the feminine divine, not only making this a song about a romantic relationship, but about feminine self-love as well. It uses repetition to accentuate the importance of feminine confidence: “La reina, la diva, la Diosa. Soy la Diosa total.” (The queen, the diva, the goddess. I am a complete goddess.) 

“Te Mata” (It Kills You), is perhaps the most traditional Latin-music inspired track in this entire album. With Uchis’s powerhouse vocals backed by light, fluffy and angelic back-ups, this song is a work of art. It reminded me of the songs my grandmother and mother would listen to, bittersweet ballads about heartbreak and betrayal. But Uchis turns this well-known Latin genre of music on its axis by changing the lyricism to something more hopeful.  

She starts by stating how she is “the devil,” according to her past lover’s story, yet she was the one who had to endure so much abuse at his hands. But despite that overwhelming trauma, heartache, sleepless nights and nightmares, she simply regards it as “something passed” and long gone. She is no longer who she used to be, and she has found happiness inside herself and alongside someone new.  

She belts to herself, almost like a reminder, that she now knows she deserves more. And “…if that makes [her] a horrible person, then that devil [she] will be.” And despite that, “[he] will never be able to cut off her wings, and that is what kills [him].” Uchis has learned her worth and acknowledges that the reason this person remains bitter is because a narcissist is no one without a victim to manipulate. They no longer have control over Uchis, and seeing her  happy, successful and thriving only eats at them.  

Finally, “Igual Que un Angel,” (Just Like an Angel) is Uchis’s collaborative love anthem alongside well-known Mexican singer Peso Pluma. This neo-soul, soft-bass beat accompanied by both Uchis’s high and Pluma’s lower vocals creates a funky song to keep your head high up in the clouds. Lyrically, the song discusses the rarity of finding a heart that solely wishes for the purest shapes of love. Uchis shares that she has found that heart, both inside herself and inside someone else–someone who was “sent from heaven down to earth,” “God’s favorite,” yet put on earth to love and be loved.  

Overall, “Orquídeas” is a beautiful album that inhales and exhales love from its pores. You can hear the genuineness behind Uchis’s vocals as compared to past albums, where she focused on worldly yet deadly pleasures. Here, she truly wanted to show the evolution and growth of her character, both as a singular woman and as a new mother. There is something just so special about a mother writing an entire album based on the insurmountable amount of love she feels in that moment in time.  

“Orquídeas” is currently out on all music streaming platforms, and a new joint video for “Tu Corazon es Mio” and “Diosa” is out on Uchis’s official YouTube channel: @KALIUCHIS