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Kelela came to prominence with her debut mixtape Cut 4 Me in 2013 which was met with critics and fans alike. The tape was a resurgence of a time when R&B dominated the pop charts, a sound that had since fallen into obscurity, not even a decade prior. Kelela’s vision for her project was to have it sound like a remix project. A sound she has seemingly grow attached to.
On the surface, the singer’s debut studio LP, Take Me Apart is a marriage of various influences. Such as underground electronica and vintage R&B Melodies on a vast majority of the album. A perfect example would be the album’s opener, ‘Frontline’, musically it has a strong electronic groove but the vocal melody is reminiscent of early 2000’s records from the likes of TLC or Aaliyah.
The single “LMK” is a clear standout from the album. The song is a throwback to 90’s club records. A girl power anthem about not needing a man to depend on for emotional self-assurance. Kelela describes the song as:
‘LMK’ is a song that’s essentially just like, ‘Just let me know—it’s not that deep either way, you know?’
While the uptempo cuts are worthy of top 40 radio, it’s the albums midtempo records that shine. Blue Light, in particular, is a stellar showcase of Kelela’s vocal ability. With most songs, she presents a soft soprano that may come off as limited. However, her sensual soprano get’s very jazzy around the song’s second verse. Other records like “S.O.S” and “Take Me Apart” are also shining examples of what she can do vocally.
However, the album offers no variety in terms of sound. While there are about 4-6 cuts that offer something new and different. The rest of the album seems like variants of what was already there. Sure the lyric content may vary, conceptually much of the album bleeds into each other. This could be due to the fact that Jam City handled a majority of the album’s production.
As a whole, Take Me Apart is the perfect album to sit back and vibe out to with a few cuts for the club. While she offers no real change in her sound from previous releases. Kelela does her part to stay in her lane and perfect her craft.