Kelela – “Waitin'”

What strikes me about Take Me Apart, the debut LP of D.C. R&B artist Kelela, is just how much it simmers. It’s calm, but underneath the surface it roils. Kelela is confident and measured, but deep down there is friction and uncertainty.

Relationships are at the heart of Take Me Apart, but more specifically, moving on from a dissolution of one. How should you feel? How do you move forward and rebuild? Kelela mulls through a lot on this album, and there’s a heady mix of moods and moments. What drives this feel further is just how airy and freeing Kelela sounds in her vocals despite how crashing, dense, and cool the production can sound. Kelela is gliding over all right here, and the sonic mix is assured and sometimes messy. It’s a nice comment on her mindstate and approach. Everything is fine. Maybe.

“Waitin'” is an addictive listen, a favorite of mine since the album dropped. On this one, our protagonist spots her ex shortly after their breakup, and goes through a wealth of emotions. This listen is intense, both inviting and distant, and the production for this one follows the same path, with terrific drums, a slinky melody, and Kelela’s breathless performance here is tops. A strong, yet conflicted listen.