Isolation is Colombian singer Kali Uchis' first full-length release. The title plays into the album’s themes of struggle, of “people trapped in their position.” The title may also refer to the fact that this is Uchis’ solo musical endeavour after a year of featuring on other artist's tracks. Her vocal talents have been lent to the likes of Gorillaz, Tyler, the Creator and Miguel. The question is does the singer manage to step out of the shadow of those collaborations and carve out her own distinct voice.

The short answer is that the album is a very strong and unique record, blending modern pop staples with a collection of retro genres. Kali manages to fuse the contemporary sounds of garage, hip-hop and club music with a subtle touch, creating a set of songs that feel relevant to the current soundscape whilst taking inspiration from the funk and soul legends that preceded her. The album jumps from genre to genre seamlessly. For example, the stand out single 'After the Storm' puts together two contrasting features, Tyler, the Creator and Bootsie Collins, the youthful and ageing prankster goof around in glee, with upstart-to-established crew BADBADNOTGOOD expertly blending all their seemingly disparate vibes. However, perhaps the influence of these acts is deep-rooted in the track. In fact, 'After the Storm' would sound right at home on Tyler’s 2017 Scum Fuck Flower Boy, acknowledged by the interlude 'Coming Home' taking huge instrumental cues from that album.

In fact, most of the prominent features fingerprints are seen on their individual tracks. Uchis is seemingly playing strongly to the artist's strengths on tracks such as 'Tyrant' which departs from the funkcore of Isolation to set up a pop flow infused with garage sensibilities so that Jorja Smith feels right at home on the track. 'In My Dreams', helmed by Damon Albarn, sounds nearly like a cut from Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach. However, though tracks have a stake in Kali’s contemporaries, she still manages to keep tracks from feeling out of place in the context of the project. Isolation takes the best aspects of current rap, neo-soul and jazz revival, and though each song fits within the album’s canon without the 45-minute runtime feeling stale. Occasionally, a jarring moment will stand out; the opening to 'Your Teeth in My Neck' sounds like something ripped straight from Thundercat’s Drunk. To be fair, this is balanced when the track quickly morphs and changes looping together a plethora of sounds with a distinct lyrical theme that carries throughout the whole album.

Kali Uchis manages to unite all these sounds by relating them to an individual struggle to stand out among the vast sea of solo artists in the music industry. From feeling drained by the corporate appropriation of her music and art to imagining an idealistic dream world to escape two while under pressure. Pressure that comes from all directions, whether it be friends pressuring her for money or a piece of her success. The pressure of a sexist industry weighs prominently on the track 'Miami'. Where Kali details her disturbing experience coming up as a musician. She delves into the assumptions on her to use sex to sell her art rather than talent. Of course, this disgusting sexist behaviour to female artists is a too common occurrence. Too often are female artists with infinite talent unfairly skewered to be sex symbols rather than artists of their own merits. Uchis breaks this down and asks why she can’t be Kanye rather than Kim Kardashian. She certainly delivers a set of thoughtful tracks and musically interesting instrumentals that show huge promise as a songwriter and a musician.

However, though Kali has a little way to go before carving her own musical style, Isolation comes very close. Her vocal style whilst boasting a gorgeous tone, are one of the few elements that could have used more variation. Though occasionally changing it up, a lot of Uchis’s vocal lack the range of emotions conveyed from song to song. Though rare flourishes like on In My Dreams which a filter makes Kali’s voice sound even more dreamlike. Her vocal line on the bridge being one of the singer’s most impressive moments. Apart from this and a few other moments, Kali’s voice sounds repetitive from track to track. However, the style fits in within all of the genre change-ups on the album and takes little away from the project’s achievements as a whole.

Though technically not her first release, Isolation feels like the beginning of an interesting career for Uchis. Her debut is in fact very well crafted despite wearing a lot of influences on its shining sleeves. It succeeds though in combining those influences into a very enjoyable album that mixes retro and contemporary genres. Most of all it shows a lot of great promise for the singer to continue making interesting fusion music in the future.