blue water road

Kehlani

blue water road

The first single Kehlani released from blue water road, a mournful yet joyful elegy for lost loved ones titled “altar,” immediately signaled a shift for the singer. The deaths of young friends and peers sent them searching for clarity, and the song intends to pass along to listeners the peace they found in that quest. It also marks a bit of a creative shift, both in the production—a cinematic ’80s-esque jam—and in the lyrics. “I think I have always leaned on talking about love...because it's the most constant emotion we all experience as people,” they explained to Apple Music's Nadeska. “But there are three or four songs on this album that are just about me or about spirituality that aren't related to just a relationship.” Indeed, the album does feel different from its predecessors; it isn’t weighty so much as measured. Romances are as passionate as ever, like on the flirtatious “any given sunday” and “up at night” (which feature Blxst and Justin Bieber, respectively). And they still go sour, as on songs like “wish i never” and “more than i should.” But “get me started,” a simmering collaboration with Syd, seeks to communicate through the issues rather than bask in the implosion, while “little story,” an acoustic-guitar-driven ballad, resembles something akin to accountability for failing to show up emotionally. Part of this is the result of the maturation that comes with aging, but another aspect is motherhood and Kehlani’s desire for their daughter to have the kind of music that can anchor a person through the waves of life. It is, in many ways, a return to form, a refined take on the introspection they have always led with. “I can make healing music as a healing person,” they told Nadeska. “I don't have to weigh myself down with the expectation that music isn't deep if it isn't raging or sad.”

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