Red Moon In Venus is easily Kali's best project to date. It's a universe where serenity sits in the production and English flirts with Spanish. Promoting healing and knowing your self worth while exploring love and heartbreak, Kali's luxurious yet tranquil tone and picturesque lyricism make this easily one of the best albums of 2023.
After releasing a predominantly Spanish album, the blend of two languages is something she's proving to be an expert at. This allows her to explore more lyrically and vocally - especially when it comes to inflections. Kali's vocals on this album are simply exquisite. She's able to project her soprano vocals that at times sound almost opera-like. She's even hitting whistle notes in places. Her airy vocalisations in the intros and adlibs of some of her tracks are alluring and draw in the listener. Her tone is soft and gentle and it often feels like being swept up in a warm, cosy blanket.
The production on Red Moon In Venus is ethereal and dreamy, laced with subtle funk influences. Kali's production throughout all of her projects almost feels impossible to categorise into a genre - it's just this lucid amalgamation of sonics that emulate drifting through time and space.
'Fantasy' is fuelled by an Afropop drum pattern, while still sounding quite light and airy as Kali's vocal stacks blend into the beat like they're an instrument. 'Moonlight' is full of funky bass, the beat caresses Kali's angelic vocals and if you listen close enough you can hear the audible glitter - like lights twinkling in the 'Moonlight'. 'Happy Now' takes on more of an Indie pop sound, courtesy of one of our favourite producers Mndsgn, among others. It gives a little bit of that Tame Impala flavour to the album. The upbeat tempo fits the song's sentiment, giving it a positive and uplifting
The production on 'Love Between' is sultry and slow, the chords dragging almost create a sensual atmosphere, there's also some xylophone in places that make the sonic glisten.'Love Between' also interpolates 'Love... Can Be So Wonderful' by The Temprees. With the original lyrics being “Love between a boy and girl can be so wonderful", Kali wasn't keen on the gender specifics, thus it became "Love between two human beings can be so wonderful" - Kali's version enables the lyrics to resonate with anyone in love, regardless of gender and sexuality.
Kali Uchis is truly one of the best songwriters of our generation in that she's clever, romantic and uses exquisite metaphors in her lyricism that work well with her soothing production. On 'I Wish You Roses', Kali explores healing from people who are no longer in her life - "I wish you roses while you can still smell 'em / With pretty flowers can come the bee sting" is about wishing people well despite their wrongdoing. It's such an important song in anybody's life, it's crucial to healing. People come in and out of our lives and it's so important to "wish them roses" rather than harm, in order to allow new blessings into your life as the latter can result in the harm being brought upon yourself.
Kali executes this "me and you against the world" sentiment using the luxurious metaphor of jewellery in 'Fantasy' when she sings "Forget all the foolery, stay on me like jewelry / On my body, don't let go of me". She ignores all the bad in the world while keeping her lover close to her chest like a necklace. Another example of her luxurious lifestyle is in 'Worth The Wait' where she opens the verse with "The mirror's on my ceiling / So I can watch you top me" - sensually alluding to making love in missionary somewhere lavish enough to have a mirror on the ceiling.
Hasta Cuando is a Spanglish "fuck you" to people who talk shit. "At the end of the day, she'd eat my pussy if I let her / At the end of the day, she'd trade lives with me if God let her" is arguably one of the best lyrics Kali's ever penned. It ties into this common saying of how when a woman is popular "women want to be her, men want to be with her". Most of the time people hate out of jealousy, they want what you have - to trade lives.
Keeping her features to a minimum, each appearance feels intentional. The subtlety of Omar Apollo, Don Toliver's romancing and Summer Walker's bout of self worth all slide right into to Red Moon In Venus incredibly harmoniously. In 'Worth The Wait' you can hear Omar Apollo harmonising in falsetto with Kali Uchis on this seductive song, his tone adds depth to the sonic overall. Witnessing Don Toliver and Kali Uchis fall deeper in love while making music together is so sweet. On flirtatious Afropop melody 'Fantasy', the pair gush about how they're able to believe in the kind of love they truly desire because it's what they experience with each other. Summer Walker makes a perfect fit for 'Deserve Me', a song about realising your self worth. Her lovelorn R&B vocals and bold lyricism - "Make me wanna take the pussy back" - assure you she's not willing to take shit from people who don't deserve her.
The sequencing on the record is also what makes it so divine, she's grouped together songs with similar inclinations which allow the record to flow fluidly. She opens the record with 'in My Garden...' which literally sounds like it was recorded outside among what nature has to offer as she reminds the listener that she loves them. 'I Wish You Roses' has some lyrics that tie into nature aswell as being about sending love to those no longer in our lives. Following on she's consistently singing about love until about halfway through the album. And while 'Hasta Cuando' and 'Endlessly' may be about different topics, sonically they follow similar drum patterns. Then 'Moral Conscience' links back to 'Hasta Cuando' in terms of topic - they're kind of like the long lost cousins of 'Dead To Me'.
Kali Uchis has outdone herself, truly. It's one thing to create a great album but another thing to create something that can truly help people heal. Kali has always promoted healing, love and peace and these values of hers have been beautifully commemorated in her music. Her pen game continues to strengthen over a glorious selection of instrumentals that sound as if they're the soundtrack of a daydream.
Review written by Kat Friar