Keshi’s heavenly debut album Gabriel reveals musical versatility, heartfelt emotions and his family’s immigrant roots

Andrik Fernandes
  • The singer-songwriter’s 12 unique tracks jump from his lush R&B roots to catchy trap beats, as he takes listeners on a musical journey
  • The Vietnamese-American music artist, born Casey Luong, features his father on a few tracks, intertwining themes of identity and family into his songs
Andrik Fernandes |

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Keshi released his debut album, Gabriel, on March 25. Photo: Captured on YouTube

After building an impressive collection of singles, including the viral Beside You and Like I Need U, singer-songwriter Keshi has finally released his much-anticipated debut album “Gabriel” – 12 unique tracks that show he has come a long way from his early SoundCloud days.

As soon as you begin working your way through the album’s tracks, it’s clear that Keshi intends to take his listeners on a musical journey.

Almost in stark contrast to the soothing lo-fi R&B beats of his earlier works, the album begins with a catchy single, Get It, which leads with a sample of his father’s voice, interrupted by sirens that herald a heavy trap beat with dark undertones.

The following track, Somebody, is a return to the artist’s lush R&B roots – a reminder of how versatile he is.

Keshi also intertwines themes of family and identity into his music, with Pere. The artist was born Casey Luong to Vietnamese immigrants in Houston, Texas, and family ties have had a significant impact on him.

Pere means “father” in French – if you didn’t know, Vietnam used to be a colony of France – and the song features Keshi’s father, Eric Luong, speaking in French as he tells his 18-year-old self not to worry as he leaves his hometown. Translated in English, he says: “And that one day / I’ll have a beautiful family and two handsome and intelligent sons”.

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The seventh track, Hell/Heaven, is an introspection into how the artist has traded new-found fame and success for a lack of time to himself.

Keshi saves the best for last with the stand-out songs, Angel and Gabriel, which refer to the archangel in the Bible. The singer said in an interview with Teen Vogue that he had always been drawn to the moniker and likened naming the track and album to naming a child.

Angel begins with soft vocals set to a simple piano melody, until the chorus, where it meets an electric guitar backed with drums. All the while, its lyrics create a dreamy melancholic song about longing for an old flame.

On Gabriel, the final track, Keshi moves past the longing of Angel, as he comes to terms with leaving a loved one. It is a fitting end to the album with the lines, “When it’s my time to go / Know that I’ll miss you so / Before I leave, I’ll see Gabriel”.

Keshi’s debut album paints a picture of the artist’s most intimate emotions through the lens of a stunningly engineered tracklist.

“Gabriel” was released on March 25 and is available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.

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