If you haven't by now heard the name Casey Luong, more popularly known as keshi, you are doing yourself a disservice. The Houston-based artist crafts enthralling portraits of love and heartbreak - often existing in the same space at the same time - that tie together distinctive notes of lofi hip-hop, otherworldly R&B, and infectious pop melodies. Nowhere is this entanglement of genres and fluctuating states of the heart more fully realized than on his latest EP, always.
While keshi's current discography consists entirely of a series of EPs, often released in rapid succession - always being the second of 2020, following the impressive bandaids - this may just be his best work to date. It is a feeling that started to bubble from its opening moments, as the titular track's throwback scratching, anachronistic voice line, and reworked sample of John Mayer's "Waiting On the World to Change" showcased a keshi wholly uninhibited by any singular style or inspiration, actively moving between lofi hip-hop and effortless pop with an acrobatic dexterity.
The effortless feeling of both the track and EP lies not only in the production but keshi's impressive songwriting. In both "always" and the ensuing "B.Y.S.," which has all the flavor of an early 2000's pop-R&B hit, keshi pairs heartbreaking lyrics with soundscapes designed to move to and lose yourself in before you know it. It is the sonic equivalent of finding yourself crying in the club.
And while one needs to look no further than "talk" - a track that quite literally goes from zero to 100 in a matter of seconds - to see this enthralling balancing act on full display, keshi manages to be just as moving when he reels himself in. "drunk" and its gentle acoustic guitar backing captures the bittersweet feeling of walking home alone at bar close to magical effect. Then there's "us," a somber piano ballad that closes out always in cinematic and sweeping fashion.
Throughout its five widely distinctive tracks, always contains both an undeniable love for nostalgic pop-R&B and the genre's next wave, but more than anything it contains every ounce of keshi. It is a piece of art this inseparable from the artist, taking us by hand through every heartbreaking low and fleeting high.
You can listen to always below or, better yet, use the password xoxosos to check out the interactive virtual world crafted for the EP here.