Singer-songwriter Kelela invites listeners into the dreamlike intimacy of her debut album | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Singer-songwriter Kelela invites listeners into the dreamlike intimacy of her debut album 

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click to enlarge Kelela


Daniel Sannwald

R &B singer-songwriter Kelela Mizanekristos, a D.C.-area native who was raised by Ethiopian parents and performs and records under her first name, makes music that sounds like it could’ve emerged from a dream. On her new debut album, Take Me Apart (Warp), she sings with an hard-to-place otherworldly quality—her vocals are both ethereal and exact; she cuts a striking presence even as it feels as though you could run your fingers through the plume of her layered and overdubbed melodies. Kelela also has an ear for blending outre electronic instrumentation that seems to swoon under her powerful voice. The collage of percussion on “Truth or Dare”—a smidgen of 808s along with finger snaps and sparse whacks of marching-band toms put together by UK producers Jam City and Kwes—provides just the right nudge to accentuate the sensual thrill in her lyrical exploration of romantic agency and equality. Throughout Take Me Apart, Kelela asks her listeners to meet her in the middle in order to feel the full gravity of its most intimate moments—fortunately, it’s quite easy to get wrapped up in.   v

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