Where in the world is Kelela? That's been a question music lovers have been asking for years now ever since the star went relatively radio silent. It prompted many to wonder if the alt-R&B singer had forsaken them. Turns out, she was listening and reading everything. She addressed her fans' concerns in recent days with a series of hilarious posts on her socials, indicating that she was up to something. She revealed exactly what that something was today (September 13th) when she released her new single "Washed Away" and its epic music video.
"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," the singer said in a statement about the track. "I specifically want to speak to marginalized 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."
The singer does exactly that with the Yo van Lenz-produced track. It's full of ambient, cleansing synth chords that wash over the track like waves in an ocean. Kelela offers some jazz-like scatting at the track's beginning, allowing the music to have its healing effect.
She does offer a few lyrics toward the song's midpoint, though, singing, "The mist, the light, the dust that settles the night / The hope, the longing, fade away, blurry-eyed / Riding out on metal rays / Moving on, a change of pace." But it's the song's echoing chorus which holds all the emotion as she belts, "Far away / Far away / Washed away."
For the song's video, Kelela takes us to Ethiopia's Danakil Depression. It's there that she channels a bit of Erykah Badu's "Didn't Cha Know" as she walks through the arid land in futuristic garb before revealing a freshly shorn head and taking a dive in a small pool of water. We're soon transported to a bright location near a sea as Kelela, now draped in flowing white fabric, performs beneath the sun. We're left with one final image of the singer in silhouette as the sun paints the background hues of purple, red and blue before the credits begin to scroll.
"Washed Away" is a fitting return for Kelela that shows that she's got a lot to say in this next phase of her career. We'll be all eyes and ears for whatever she has coming. Right now, though, you should direct your attention to the stream of "Washed Away" and its dynamic video below.