‘It Was Good Until it Wasn’t’ is the album Kehlani needed to make
Kehlani - It Was Good Until It Wasn't
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It is fitting that It Was Good Until It Wasn’t was a quarantine release – arguably, the absence of normality has invited a lot of self-reflection for many of us. It leaves a lot of time (between scoffing packs of Jammie Dodgers, of course) to dwell on who we are. Enter Kehlani.
Responsible for some of the most stunning selections of old-school R&B of recent years, she is a master of the art of retrospection. Back with some of her best work yet, she has achieved absolute clarity. The Californian has always been self-assured, but here, on the other end of an undoubtedly tumultuous couple of years, it is more palpable than ever.
At its core, IWGUIW is an album about coming back from heartbreak, but not in your quintessential tears streaming down your face kind of way. Instead, Kehlani’s sense of self seems heightened, creating an album that, though deeply tinged with loss, pushes growth and flourishment to its forefront.
‘Everybody Business’ is a prime example of this. Though an acknowledgement of the weight of having relationships dissected by the public, fundamentally, it is an ode to herself. Her strengths, her passion, her unwavering love – they all find themselves celebrated to a stripped-back, acoustic-driven beat. It is absolutely immaculate.
Kehlani’s silky vocals are a standout, and they shine even against some of the slickest production around and a smattering of high-profile features. The combination of Kehlani and fellow songstress Jhene Aiko’s vocals on ‘Change Your Life’ is nothing short of angelic. ‘Hate The Club’ is perfect: her sultry lyrics go hand in hand with the seductive sax of Masego, and the magic touch of Yussef Dayes’ production – a real cherry on top.
James Blake has come to the aid of many a household name, offering his inimitable flair to many standout tracks. His contribution on ‘Grieving’, though, is one of his best collaborations to date. His feature is a gorgeous addition: it’s no surprise that she has declared it her favourite on the album. The effortless harmonies between the two are ethereal – it is the musical equivalent of stepping into a hot bath and not moving till your fingers are on the wrinkly side but your head is clear.
This idea seems to carry Kehlani throughout the album: it is inherently cleansing and clarifying. This is her new beginning, and it sees her stepping into herself. Coming out on the other end she is enlightened, invigorated and completely unstoppable. It Was Good Until It Wasn’t was the album Kehlani needed to make, and I think that is part of it’s charm. It is riddled with a powerful emotivity that takes you by the hand and guides you through, and if you’re anything like me, it’ll make you fall completely in love with it.
Haiku Review Lil’ self reflection, Between the Jammie Dodgers, Goes a long long way,