It’s been a long time coming for the ethereal songstress, Kelela. It’s surprising that her debut album, Take Me Apart, came four years after her first project Cut 4 Me. Cut 4 Me was described by listeners as futuristic and an interesting introduction of new implementations in R&B. Assisted by Kelela’s gorgeous voice, the production was poppy yet dark with plenty of synths and danceable grooves. In 2015, she released the Hallucinogen EP on Warp Records. The project was compiled of more brooding, sexy songs that gave off a great supply of emotions through the medium of alternative R&B style. Kelela has an innate aura she utilizes for her music. Often she and her production are one in the same. She is able to use her silky voice over ambient sounds to take you to another state of mind, maybe another world.
Take Me Apart is the full realization of Kelela artistic efforts. Kelela achieves a masterful performance of emotionally thrilling ballads. Each song is as atmospheric as the next and plenty of love stories are present. The love songs Kelela creates are endearing. The songs are sensual, but there’s a sense of distance. These songs will lead grasping air for what a relationship could be. This is especially relevant for the slower tracks, such as “Better.” In this track, she js longing for space. She knows what kind of love can blossom if she and her lover just wait and seek things out. Distance can heal many wounds and is a great tactic to rid of toxicity. When relationships run its course, it can be difficult figuring out a way to end it in a nonconfrontational manner. Kelela illustrates the benefits of separation flawlessly on this album highlight.
This is especially relevant for the slower tracks, such as “Better.” In this track, she js longing for space. She knows what kind of love can blossom if she and her lover just wait and seek things out. Distance can heal many wounds and is a great tactic to rid of toxicity. When relationships run its course, it can be difficult figuring out a way to end it in a nonconfrontational manner. Kelela illustrates the benefits of separation flawlessly on this album highlight.
She speaks on detachment again on “Onanon,” but there’s more of a struggle. There’s a repetition of the relationship alternates from stable to unstable. It’s frustrating, but Kelela is having trouble leaving. As in many relationships, people refused to not let the good outweigh the bad. With “Onanon,” she brings this common epidemic to the forefront.
As insinuated before, this isn’t an average love album. There is not a song on this album where Kelela is in a state of full-blown love. The closest she reaches that level is on “Turn To Dust,” where she willingly admits that her lover literally destroys he in the best way possible. Their presence gets her the best thrill and no matter how horrible the actual relationship is, she isn’t fully able to reject them. Her vocal performance is gratifying. Her ability to grasp listeners to stories by her voice is consistently outstanding.
Let’s not think Kelela is prone at making costly decisions because she is a woman who knows what she wants when she wants it. The title track, “Take Me Apart,” is a lovely envisioning of a nightly sexual escapade. She desires to sexually pleased, but also emotionally dismembered. She wants to feel the passion and the feeling of being alive. Unsurprisingly, she makes it clear to her partner that she doesn’t want them to fall in love her. Love is too serious for a night. Just physical and emotional pleasure will suffice.
Kelela can be emotional, but she can also be daring. Though there are several moments of vulnerability, she makes it known that she has the strength for these types of situations. She made this clear on the intro track, “Frontline.” She knows what she wants out of a relationship, and if she isn’t fully invested in you, she has no time for your idiocy.
Other than Kelela’s amazing story-telling, the instrumentation deserves much attention as well. It is enticingly consistent. It isn’t just synth-heavy mush. The music crafted with unusual sounds and practices that enhance each song to its full potential. There’s a certain dark, ominous feel attached to the production that matches Kelela’s emotions. She found her sound early in her, but it hasn’t gotten any better than this. Of course, fans would love something even better for her next masterpiece.