After a long four-year hiatus, the Washington D.C.-born R&B singer Kelela has dropped a new single called “Washed Away.” The song feels youthful and gives a positive outlook on change, growth, and moving forward.
Now based in Los Angeles, Kelela is signed to Warp Records. She’s a critically acclaimed alternative R&B artist who has worked with Danny Brown, Gorillaz, Solange, KAYTRANADA, and many others. Her last release, “Take Me Apart,” dropped in 2017 and the record centered on love, heartbreak, and self-discovery. She received a lot of positive feedback and made the “Best Of” and “End of The Year” lists in multiple publications.
I first discovered Kelela on Danny Brown’s 2016 album, Atrocity Exhibition. She’s featured on the track “From the Ground;” I was a big fan of the haunting production and her singing with Danny. She released TAKE ME A_PART, THE REMIXES in 2018 but since then we haven’t gotten any other releases or seen her face until now.
The rollout for this single started on Monday with Kelela posting a video to her Instagram and YouTube channel. There were comments from fans on Twitter wondering where she has been stating, “KELELA, WE NEED YOU!!! WHERE ARE YOU???” Then on Wednesday she finally dropped the song simultaneously with the video.
Breaking Down The Song
The song itself is accompanied by heavy synthesizes giving a blissful feeling of euphoria. She starts speaking in tongues in the beginning with the lyrics being unclear, but it sets the tone for what is coming. In total, the song is three and a half minutes with only 47 words with the chorus repeated only twice. Her voice is very angelic, and she seems in a new mind frame of openness to change and moving on. There’s not enough context to exactly figure out what she is talking about. It seems she intended to be for open interpretation for the listener. This new single doesn’t sound far off from her signature sound, but I’m glad she has new material.
The video is almost reminiscent of Erykah Badu’s music video for “Didn’t You Know,” with mountains and the desert in the background. She then reveals her shaved head which was a surprise to her fans considering she had dreadlocks for so long. In the end, she walked songs off into the sunset leaving the viewer wondering where she’s going.
Throwback samples from the 90s and early 2000s are very prevalent in today’s sound. Kelela is a true artist who is very forward-thinking and innovative, and this song is an example of that. I believe this is one of the best songs released so far this year. I’m excited to see what’s next to come from her.