Posted On Friday, September 16, 2022

The Return of Kelela

By: Justin Pecisto

After 4 years on hiatus, Kelela has returned with the new single, “Washed Away”. A week ago, Kelela had made her first music related post since 2018, soft launching a return to the public eye and music industry. On Instagram and Twitter, she posted vignettes of fans asking her to return since her last projects; Take Me Apart (2017) and Take Me Apart Remixes (2018). I was curious to know what the sound of her new music would be like considering how many artists are making club music right now––something Kelela has done herself with  past albums; Hallucinogen and Cut 4 Me.

Although she is known for her electronic and R&B sound, she is limitless in what she can do. In her remix album, there are tracks with brazilian funk, breakcore and ballroom sounds, but, for her new single, it’s something a little different. She tweeted, “Please TRUST the bangers are on the way, but first: how’s your heart?” indicating a change of pace (and BPM). The song opens with an ambient trance-like sound reminiscent of a playstation 2 starting up. It feels very sentimental and nostalgic.

Listening to the song makes me understand why she asks “How’s your heart?”. The lyrics are meditative and contemplative, with her voice ringing over the ambient beat. There are similarities between “Washed Away” and Sade’s ambient soul track, “I Never Thought I’d See The Day”. I was listening to the song in my car and I felt emotional listening to it myself, the same feeling I get when listening to Solange’s “Cranes In The Sky”. Kelela’s voice adds to the emotion because she sounds hopeful and melancholy at the same time. I love this sound for her, although fans have been waiting for the bops to return, I’m always satisfied with an ambient track––I feel there isn’t enough ambient music coming out these days. Ambient music is self-contained in a niche part of the major music scene, but more prevalent in the indies. The song feels like an opener to a new era where that changes, which I’m anticipating.

I love ambient music and love that Kelela has chosen this genre for her return single. Ambient focuses on the atmosphere of the song, rather than the beat of the song and “Washed Away” really delivers with its atmosphere. The song makes you feel like you’re at a oasis in the desert under the full moon. It’s clear that Kelela made this song for those of us relaxing at home instead of in the club ready for bangers (for now).  This song feels like an overture to the highly anticipated next stage of her career. It’s going to be very exciting to see she does next as I have missed her these past years and so has everyone else!

Check out her new video here: “Washed Away”