Nine years ago, Kelela stormed both sides of the Atlantic with a futuristic R&B sound on Cut 4 Me that took its cues from the UK’s R&G movement—a sound which blends R&B with grime—thanks in large part to Bok Bok, Kingdom and the Night Slugs/Fade To Mind family. Two years later, she repeated the magic with Take Me Apart—and then she disappeared. For five years.
Now, however, we’ve got the news that she’s returned with a new single, “Washed Away”, and it comes with a fresh new video directed by Yasser Abubeker. Filmed out in the Danakil Depression, in the northern section of Ethiopia’s Afar region, the stunning vastness of the landscape draws out the ethereal and otherworldly qualities of producer Yo van Lenz’s shimmering ambient textures and Kelela’s vocals that are sweet and delicate but far from fragile.
It’s a far cry from the club-leaning sounds of her first two projects, but in her words, “I love a banger, but for the first point of contact out of my hiatus, it felt more honest to lead with an ambient heart-check.”
Speaking in more detail about the new track and her intentions, Kelela explains: “I specifically want to speak to marginalised Black folk and highlight the work we do to find renewal in a world that’s built to make us feel inadequate. This song is the soundtrack to the relief we find after going inward.”
There’s no concrete word of a new album or anything like that, so for now, hit play on the visuals above and be sure to add “Washed Away” to your playlists.