Summer is right around the corner, and you can’t help but imagine driving your doorless Jeep Wrangler down a winding mountain road with a 360 view of the ocean as the wind blows in your face. But the only thing that’s missing is that perfect playlist.
Ladies and gentlemen, R&B hitmaker Kehlani has you covered.
Just two years after her sophomore album, Kehlani is back and better than ever with her third studio album, “Blue Water Road,” which was released on April 29. And let me make it known that it does not disappoint.
Consisting of 13 songs and features from Justin Bieber, Jessie Reyez, Blxst, Syd, Thundercat and Ambré, this album aims to highlight a new chapter in Kehlani’s life permeating with self-awareness, healing and self-love.
Compared to its predecessors, it takes a completely different approach to production and lyrical creativity.
Before the album, Kehlani gave her fans a preview with the release of her lead single, “Altar,” on Sept.15, 2021.
Infused with an 80’s funk twist, a steady tempo and hints of a ticking grandfather clock, “Altar” is a unique tune that touches on the unfathomable subjects of grief, death and the journey of continuing a relationship with an ancestor even after they’ve transitioned to the other side.
“If I set a flame and I call your name / I’ll fix you a plate, we can go to dinner / We can share a meal your way / And I’ll play you the songs that you used to play / So I put you on the altar,” Kehlani sings.
This melody accentuates her range and striking vocals. It would be an indication of the brilliance that was to come from the rest of the album.
The third track, “Shooter Interlude,” is a soothing yet raw, straight-talking two-minute message revealing all the demands Kehlani has faced since fame.
“Can I borrow some money? Can you call me an Uber? / My mama needs surgery and my son needs a scooter / Can you start up my start-up? Can you move my maneuver? / I think you need Jesus, I think you need a shooter,” Kehlani sings.
It’s truly an anthem for all successful individuals.
Just like Sour Patch Kids, “first they’re sour, then they’re sweet,” Kehlani knows exactly how to switch it up.
“Up at Night,” a passionate and flirtatious track featuring Bieber, incorporates Soul II Soul’s 1989 “Fairplay,” which provides a groovy and ethereal twist.
A smooth, relaxing beat and hints of guitar assist to outline a new, hot summer romance that consumes one’s every being.
“You wonder why I love you / There was never pressure / Easy as I want to / There’s just no one better / You think it’s calculated / Baby, I’m just not that clever, never / And what could I say? / I knew that it would go this way / Of course you blamed it on fate (fate) / Couldn’t let it just escape/ Now at the end of our days (days) / I run back thoughts of you,” Kehlani sings.
After Kehlani’s infectious verse, Bieber takes the ropes to delve into his romantic obsession.
“I think about all of the ways you turn me on (Turn me on) / And my bed gets lonely whenever you’re gonе (Whenever you’rе gone) / But, baby, I’m a wreck without you (You) / All I do is fantasize about you (About you) / You’re the light of my life, yeah, I mean it,” Bieber sings.
Any song with Bieber never disappoints, but a collaboration between these two stars is just a blessing to our ears.
With the aforementioned songs, there’s no doubt “Blue Water Road” is a force to be reckoned with, but there’s one song that frankly stands out. “Everything” is a delicate, warm melody that explores the journey of accepting one’s sexuality.
“I could blame it on the physical / I could blame it on your lips, your touch, your kiss / You know, real traditional / But your love’s too original / You are anything but conventional / Baby, did you know that / From the moment we fell in, I knew we could fall back / Knew I’d always crawl back, ooh,” Kehlani sings.
This is followed up by the chorus.
“Cause, baby, it’s the everything for me / For me, oh, for me / This is such a different thing for me,” Kehlani sings.
It’s a beautiful celebration of queer love.
Emotional and spiritual, “Blue Water Road” is just another reason Kehlani sits at the top of the R&B world.