‘take me apart’ by kelela

image via Fader

image via Fader

A completely captivating Kelela stopped me in my tracks at an Afropunk Fest in Brooklyn once. A few years ago when I was a Kelela virgin, I saw her and immediately gravitated my attention, only she wasn’t on anyone’s stage. She was walking in the audience, casual as ever. She caught the attention of many photographers, but I figured it was only because of her sick outift and a then recently shaved side loc-bang situation that was absolutely immaculate. Her presence speaks loudly to many. A many that includes an array of incredible soulful and talented friends and collaborators. By the time Kelela hit the stage (just prior Goldlink and after Raury), I was sold. 


It’s shocking to me that Kelela hasn’t actually released an album, until now. Take Me Apart is her first studio album with Warp. In much anticipation, I awaited Take Me Apart. A rarity for me because ironically, I am often a slow moving slug on the music train (I listened to Channel Orange for the first time in 2016 and Yeezus was my first time really digesting a Kanye album). What can I say? I break rules.

Assuringly going to enjoy this well awaited and much anticipated listen. Kelela is not one to disappoint in any way. Moreover, I’m going to enjoy this reimagined space for true R&B in 2017.
Album art

Album art

The pre-released tracks are in typical Kelela fashion, referencing “Guns and Synths,” her signature style, and first title track. Synthesizing is unavoidable when tuning into her sound, which blends classic R&B with experimental nods. It's an ambiguous yet perfectly deliberate genre of musical symphony. It's incredibly immersive. Tracks like "Enough," "Might," or "Waitin'" exemplify this. 

“Frontline” offers the full rythym and blues marriage to her synths style. References to the 90s and 00s are riddled sonically and lyrically all over the track. “LMK” offers “Rewind” vibes repackaged and refined. 

I am a black woman, a second-generation Ethiopian-American, who grew up in the ‘burbs listening to R&B, Jazz and Björk. All of it comes out in one way or another.
— Kelela [Press Release]

Kelela’s signature sound is so mesmerizing, I don’t mind hearing it rearranged in a myriad of ways. This album will be nothing short of this exploration. Fader calls the album “fully grounded in R&B.” And The New York Times titled their feature piece on the album “R&B That’s Intimate Inside and Out.” My favourite attempt at pinning down her sound however, is via The Guradian who calls it "glitchy R&B." Sold! ©

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