|Let It Go
|On the Run
|Enough for Love
In an age of constant engagement, silence and introspection can seem like the most daunting thing. For Kelela it was a necessary step, and a rewarding one. Her highly acclaimed 2017 debut album Take Me Apart helped to build a music world celebrating Black and queer club culture, and the following hiatus was a palpable one. Now, the wait for Kelela’s much anticipated return is over, with her second album Raven documenting not only her withdrawal, but also her magnificent rebirth.
Opening this era with the 'Washed Away' music video set in the stunning landscapes of her ancestral Ethiopia, it's clear Kelela has been on a journey. On Raven, she severs from relationships: friends, lovers, even herself, travelling as far as possible to come back even stronger. These themes stem from her feelings of “isolation and alienation as a Black femme in dance music”, resulting in renewing tracks where her vocals soar above nocturnal, pummelling techno beats and sunken, meditative ambient soundscapes. These two worlds collide in the duo of ‘Raven’ and ‘Bruises’ where Kelela defiantly stakes her claim on the four to the floor with a “crying in the club” feel, as enveloping baroque shimmers are broken apart by a thumping club storm.
Amidst the bangers are oceans of emotional expression. Club anthems produced alongside LSDXOXO and Bambii like ‘Happy Ending’ and ‘On The Run’ depict the “push and pull dynamics of love” with heavenly harmonies and turbulent rhythms. The propulsive drum breaks of ‘Missed Call’ soundtrack the suspense lingering around the phone, waiting for a call or gathering the courage to make one. ‘Sorbet’ freezes an intimate moment in time, wistful vocals inhabit the sonic field, before scattering with the heavy, plunging plucks of ‘Divorce’.
Kelela explores her own identity and ancestry on Raven, displaying her incomparable artistry in full force.