Before you leave, come see “GABRIEL”

On March 25, “GABRIEL” by keshi was released. With three music videos, “SOMEBODY,” “TOUCH” and “GET IT’,” already released, keshi’s newest album has attracted attention with a total of 12 tracks and over 30 million total Spotify streams. 

Casey Luong, better known as keshi, is an Asian–American singer–songwriter who first debuted in 2017 with his single “over u.” His most popular song, “like i need u,” has over 94 million Spotify streams and is arguably the song that solidified his standing as a well known artist.

Prior to “GABRIEL,” keshi mainly produced EPs in an alternative, lofi sound. This new album taps into more diverse styles and genres that explore keshi’s new exploration into his artistry as a musician as well as himself as a person. 

“It’s definitely not so out of what I’m used to doing; just a little bit more for me this time,” said keshi in an interview with the Zach Sang Show. 

“GABRIEL” is an album that explores who keshi is, both as an artist and as a person. The first half of his album includes more upbeat, stylized beats that transform keshi’s unique sound into something that sounds different but still stays true to his style. The second half of his album is more calm, but still is, if not more, powerful than the first. With personal lyrics and simple but vivid instrumentation, keshi brings forth a more vulnerable side of himself. 

Keshi’s first two songs “GET IT” and “SOMEBODY” are a pair of upbeat and boastful tunes. His heavier, richer and darker instrumentation combined with indulgent lyrics create a vibe that says “I have it all,” which is a dramatic increase in confidence from keshi’s earlier works. The layered instrumentals and catchy choruses make the two songs a perfect addition to any laid–back night. 

The album gradually softens with “WESTSIDE,” “TOUCH” and “MILLI.” The tracks, while more professionally produced, are more similar to keshi’s original style, complete with falsetto melodies and plenty of ad–libs that make the perfect addition to a more calm and focused playlists. 

The 6th track “PÉRE” is a brief recording stuck in the middle of the album. This track is the most unique but important part of the album. It is a 48–second monologue spoken by Eric Luong, keshi’s father, as a candid reassurance to his 18–year old self in French, one of Luong’s native languages. This track physically separates the personal and musical explorations of the album and embodies keshi’s family values. 

“HELL/HEAVEN,” “ANGOSTURA” and “LIMBO” are a perfect mix between keshi’s earlier style of softer lo–fi beats and darker vibes that show off his newfound styles. While these were on the lower end of my ratings, they are a great example of the type of music keshi makes and what fans can expect in the future. 

The last three songs are “UNDERSTAND,” “ANGEL” and “GABRIEL,” the most emotional and beautiful of the album. These are a big change from the rest of keshi’s album. With less emphasis (if any) on catchy drum beats and diverse instrumentation, these songs primarily feature a soulful guitar or piano instrumental and simple, meaningful lyrics that show off the most vulnerability keshi has presented in his music.

“GABRIEL” is a very special track. As the namesake and last track of the album, it holds significance in both its lyrics and style. The only instrument is a piano, striking soulful chords that are similar to that of church music, giving the song a more gothic, religious sound. Keshi sings in harmony with himself with an echo effect, as if he were singing in a spacious church. More backing vocals and instrumentals build up in the background as the song progresses, eventually ending on an echo of the song at the final swell. He sings about “GABRIEL” as if he were speaking about a child of his own. 

“Why is naming an album any different from naming your child, you know?” said keshi in an interview with TeenVogue. 

The intimacy keshi brings to the table with sharing his “child” with the world is a leap from his previous work, adding to how much this album will change keshi’s music from here on out. Overall, as a debut album, I loved every track he put out. The different styles and vibes within the album gave me different songs for different occasions. As keshi graduates from EPs to full–length albums, fans have high hopes to see how keshi will evolve and grow as an artist.