Things to do this week: ‘The Cuisine of Mali’ exhibit, Futurebirds at Hi-Fi and ‘Mystery’ of Easter Island lecture

Kehlani. (Courtesy of WOW Hall)

Can there be a better album name than “It Was Good Until It Wasn’t” in today’s age of confusion and fear? Kehlani, a soulful R&B singer, who released her sophomore album May 8, was able to capture sentiments that could be felt by die-hard to casual fans. Her metaphors are intricate from the album cover to the tracks themselves. They show situations from a different perspective giving the listener a new angel on complex situations. Her production is crisp, and her ability to mystify her transparency are qualities not all artists have. On “It Was Good Until It Wasn’t,” Kehlani hones in on her skills to allure vocally and fascinate fans.

As an artist who has been under public scrutiny for her relationships, she faces many of those criticisms head-on. The album reveals how passionately Kehlani loves, whether the relationships are healthy or not. She has journeyed through many relationships and has made mistakes. She pleads in this album, lyrically, she should be able to love without everyone’s eyes focused on who she’s with.

On the first track of the album, “Toxic,” she dives into the reality of volatile relationships by highlighting that it can be difficult to spot the venom until it’s to late. Featuring steady piano notes under her soothing orotund voice, she sings sincerely to her audience. While many fans have their interpretation, Kehlani feels somewhat betrayed and delighted. Saying she hates how people assume it is about a past relationship but at the same time appreciates how her fans can see she wants to be transparent. 

Can I (feat. Tory Lanez),” addresses Kehlani’s desires and lustful obsessions. Over a mixture of animated snares, rhythmic strumming and Kehlani’s enthralling voice, she describes what it feels like to be in the honeymoon stage of a relationship. No one can do wrong; being physical is a constant and continual asking of permission as couples get to know one another. In the first two tracks, we hear the duality of her good and bad messaging infused into the album. 

Fans have long-awaited a collaboration between Kehlani and Jhene Aiko, another powerful R&B singer, the two have complementary styles and Kehlani has spoken about how she looks up to the R&B singer. On“Change Your Life,” fans are finally appeased. This is all that fans of both artists can enjoy over a flurry of major key piano and positive drum patterns. The song relates how Kehlani wants to change someone who doesn’t seek monogamy and changes to someone who can not live without one specific person. She is willing to put all her positivity into making this person the best they can be, “Baby, let me change your life,” she repeatedly sings in the chorus. 

Later in the album, Kehlani demonstrates the dangers of being prideful in a relationship on “Can You Blame Me (feat. Lucky Daye).” One of the more bass-heavy tracks, Kehlani, laments the difficulties of the post-honeymoon stage of a relationship, when reality and disagreements set in.  She admits it’s a part of love. “I would rather argue than me sleep alone.” 

On “Grieving (feat. James Blake),” Kehlani muddles through her feelings of relief and regret over ending a relationship. The somber tone of the song reflects the pain after the immediate loss of someone important. Kehlani’s lyrics, on the other hand, sound like a sigh of relief now that she has control and space for herself. 

Kehlani addresses criticism of herself very well. Instead of lashing out at fans, she uses her artistic ability to create this album. She continues to speak to her youth and willingness to learn from mistakes, inviting fans to learn from her decisions.