Alexandria vocalist Kali Uchis has always burrowed deep into American soul and funk: She toyed with doo-wop on her debut mixtape Drunken Babble, cooed over a funky trunk-rattler on her collaboration with Snoop Dogg and chilled out with a vibraphone on recent single “Real.” Now her latest tune—premiered today by Billboard—finds Uchis stepping up her vocal game over a 1975 song by Cuban/Nuyorican soul artist Ralfi Pagan.
“Music nowadays is all about having no feelings and being too cool,” Uchis says to Billboard. “I wanted to reference classic [stuff] from times when people let themselves be raw and vulnerable.” Pagan’s original is called “I Could Never Hurt You Girl.” According to reports, the soul singer was killed in 1978 while touring Uchis’ home country of Colombia.
Uchis does sound more vulnerable on this cut, but also notably stronger: It’s her best vocal performance yet. Por Vida, her followup to Drunken Babble, is expected out next year.