“Riding out on metal waves / Moving on, a change of pace…”

Kelela made waves five years ago with her debut studio album Take Me Apart, one of the most forward-thinking R&B records in recent memory, inspired by Janet Jackson and Björk. (And truly, the album sounds like the exact meeting point between the two.)

A remix album, Take Me a_Part, the Remixes, came one year later, including contributions from some of the coolest innovators in the scene, including Kaytranada and Serpentwithfeet.

And then, she disappeared.

Four years later, Kelela’s back. For real – no PlayStation 5 hacker scam on Twitter this time, promise.

“Washed Away” formally kicks off a new era for the 39-year-old singer, an entrancing first taste of what’s to come.

A groove like “LMK”? Maybe not, but don’t panic just yet: they’re coming.

“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,” she said in a press release upon the song and video’s release on Tuesday (September 13).

“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 initial offering from Kelela’s long-awaited follow-up, produced by Yo van Lenz, plays like a soul-soothing introductory interlude, as her signature restorative voice gently glides across an atmospheric backdrop, carrying us away into the next chapter.

A stunning visual shot in the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia, directed by Yasser Abubeker (who most recently worked with Shygirl on “Firefly”) further illustrates the artistic rebirth, as she sheds her hair and steps into the water.

Kelela’s here to begin the healing, and not a moment too soon.

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