Kelela has ended a five-year hiatus with the release of “Washed Away,” a heavenly sonorous new single that comes with an equally stunning music video. But choosing how to herald her reemergence was a hard decision as well. Instead of going with the kind of bass-heavy bangers she’s been known for (and emphatically unveiled on a batch of remixes for her album Take Me Apart that she released in 2018) she decided to slow things down a bit. With “Washed Away” she strips everything down sonically but by no means does that mean the track has lost a bit of Kelela’s cinematic breadth.
The song’s centerpiece is her own beaming vocals, which ebb and flow like powerful waves against the ethereal pull of its droning tones. With Kelela’s words cutting through the somewhat icy gloom like rays of sunlight, bathing you in its intoxicating and healing beauty. At its core “Washed Away” seeks to assuage pain and fortify a rejuvenation — specifically amongst Black people marginalized because of their skin color.
The music video for “Washed Away,” directed by Yasser Abubeker, was filmed with the stunning landscape of the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia as its backdrop. Like the song, the video basks itself in the illustriousness of its surroundings — Kelela’s soothing cries finding some harmony alongside the browned-hued rock formations and striking desert scenery. The video reveals the artist’s goal of presenting the innate beauty in things and the transformative awe that can create. And its final minute is truly the peak of its astonishing visuals, as Kelela treks across a crystalline shore that reflects back the blazing sun back on her in a way that’s as otherworldly as her music.
“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,” Kelela said of the new song. “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.”
Words by Steven Ward
Watch the music video for Kelela’s new song “Washed Away” below!