EP Review: Khalia - Stay True
by Gardy Stein
A new voice has risen! Hailing from the lush mountains of Jamaica's Westmoreland and the bustling metropole of London, singer Khalia presents her debut EP Stay True. She is the first act signed to K-Licious Music, and, after a string of fine single releases, founder Tony "CD" Kelly executively produced her current oeuvre.
The seven tracks included give us a wonderful impression of the young singer's vocal qualities, both as solo performer and in combination with other artists. Thus, the love song Waiting On You is a perfect introduction, as it demonstrates the incredible heights she can climb vocally, and the subsequent Didn't I, much calmer than the first but also devoted to the topic of love, drips with warmth and emotion.
With the title track Stay True, Khalia explores more Dancehallish territory, telling the life stories of the fictious characters Lisa and Johnny to discuss how difficult it can be to trust people in your life. Her delivery shows a different facet of her talent again, as she powerfully rides the driving riddim and rapidly spits authentic Jamaican Patois at us. Boom!
The remaining four tracks have amazing featured artists, the choice and quality of which bear proof of both Khalia's extensive network and her knack for vocal matches. In the reassuring Tings & Time, Mortimer adds his melodious timbre to hers, and together they convince us that they'll be there "even when tings and time get rough". Probably most surprising is the collaboration with Shaggy on Double Trouble (but then again, it was him who introduced her to Tony Kelly back in 2016, so singing together was a long time coming), a song that talks about two people experiencing an undeniable physical attraction but who don't work out in a relationship.
On a more conscious note, No Answer sees the great Tanya Stephens join Khalia in a critique of greedy leaders and politicians who don't solve the problems they are supposed to. The underlying instrumental is a clever re-make of the Answer riddim, with a pitch toward minor chords to fit the song's serious theme. Please do check out the accompanying video, a great display of young Kingston acting talents!
The EP closes with Go, a bright empowerment anthem featuring Blvk H3ro. Together, the two artists sing about dreams and aspirations coming true as long as you work hard towards your goals. "I was grinding on a low low low, you know me nah stop cause me a grow grow grow…" True talk! Music-wise, this piece is not really Reggae, but it sits well with the overall song selection, and it has some exciting features to discover, such as the full stop at 2:28.
Khalia certainly is a force to be reckoned with in the future. Her down-to-earth attitude, the careful development of her career and her undeniable talent, so beautifully showcased in her debut Stay True, hold the promise of great achievements. Shine bright, star girl!
Khalia - Stay True EP
DIGITAL RELEASE [Ineffable Records]
Release date: 10/27/2023
01. Waiting On You
02. Didn't I
03. Tings & Time feat. Mortimer
04. Double Trouble feat. Shaggy
05. No Answerf feat. Tanya Stephens
06. Stay True
07. Go feat. Blvk H3ro