News / Africa

Singer Auriol Hays Molds Personal Torment into Brilliant Second Album

TEXT SIZE - +
Darren Taylor
This is Part Three of a six-part series on South African Vocalists 
Continue to Parts:     1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Auriol Hays’ second record is a cascading blend of genres that include soul, jazz and blues, interpreted by one of the strongest voices to emerge on the South African music scene in many years.
 
The album is a rollercoaster ride of emotions and moods. It condemns deceit and pleas for peace. It’s faithless yet reverent, luminescent with the idea of falling in love and angry over its pitfalls.

Some songs are sinister, others offer playful swagger; some crackle with electronic menace, others are laden with industrial percussion and screeching effects; some are spare piano and acoustic guitar ballads that soothe and caress. One recalls the orchestral swell of some of the best work by Welsh diva Shirley Bassey; another is a tortured Portuguese lament.
 
The album is diverse but not disjointed, its many ingredients ultimately enhancing and uniting it.
 
Catharsis
 
The overall tone of Cape Town-based Hays’s new work, Call It Love: Anima Sola, is shaped by pain, loss and regret.

Auriol Hays’ second album is a mix of different musical styles and influences (Courtesy Auriol Hays)Auriol Hays’ second album is a mix of different musical styles and influences (Courtesy Auriol Hays)
x
Auriol Hays’ second album is a mix of different musical styles and influences (Courtesy Auriol Hays)
Auriol Hays’ second album is a mix of different musical styles and influences (Courtesy Auriol Hays)
She’s blunt when explaining its roots. “My marriage had just fallen apart, pretty much. Writing the music has been a way of dealing with all of that, and a way of healing,” she said.
 
The record’s title calls on Roman Catholic tradition. The Anima Sola, or Forsaken Soul, is an image of a woman suffering in purgatory, surrounded by flames. She’s shown in a dungeon, breaking free of her chains.

Hays is frank when she says her new album emerged from the end of her marriage (A. Hays)Hays is frank when she says her new album emerged from the end of her marriage (A. Hays)
x
Hays is frank when she says her new album emerged from the end of her marriage (A. Hays)
Hays is frank when she says her new album emerged from the end of her marriage (A. Hays)
The picture is particularly apt when applied to Hays’s album.
 
“I was in a space where there was absolutely no personal love when I wrote it,” she told VOA.
​Hays felt desolate, but her art saved her, she said. “The only place where I can find some kind of peace is when I write music because…music is like an oracle of thoughts,” she explained.
 
The singer said she allowed her personal agony to “infect” her music.
 
“Even as you are busy facing the end of a marriage, the end of a relationship, that pain and honesty…it’s beautiful; it’s delicious; you can revel in it and you can turn it into something magical!” she said.
 
Hays added, “I’ve sung my best when I’ve been at my saddest.”
 
For her, Call It Love was clearly cathartic.
 
“By the time I’m finished singing a song like “I sing the blues”…you feel so much lighter; you feel so much better,” she said. The track reflects on the loss of love. Hays sings in a stretched and strained voice, ‘This cage we’re in / The hurt, the sin / I don’t know where to begin / So I sing the blues / I sing the blues / When you’re around.’

Hays as she appears in the video of her song, ‘Better Man’ from her latest record (A. Hays)Hays as she appears in the video of her song, ‘Better Man’ from her latest record (A. Hays)
x
Hays as she appears in the video of her song, ‘Better Man’ from her latest record (A. Hays)
Hays as she appears in the video of her song, ‘Better Man’ from her latest record (A. Hays)
​The song, with its robotic rhythm, plunges the listener into what sounds like the bowels of a factory, a hot and harsh place where there is no love, only relentless toil; where people slave in service to a heartless metal machine.
 
No anesthetic
 
The record also jolts the listener with anger, disappointment and bitterness – probably most evident on the terrifying track “Devil woman,” during which Hays seethes through clenched teeth, ‘The devil is a woman / So slick and so sly…She’ll hide her claws / And her horns / Where no one can see / Until the time it becomes necessary,’ before tearing into the pulsating chorus, ‘Devil woman, devil woman / Take that smirk off your face / Devil woman, devil woman / Get the hell out of my place….’
 
The song is loaded with a bestial appetite for revenge. It’s one of the defining moments on Call It Love, its pounding, military-like drums being Hays’s chief allies in her declaration of war on the deceitful devil woman who has wronged her.

Another scene from the video of ‘Better Man’ (A. Hays)Another scene from the video of ‘Better Man’ (A. Hays)
x
Another scene from the video of ‘Better Man’ (A. Hays)
Another scene from the video of ‘Better Man’ (A. Hays)
Assessing some of the record’s fury, Hays said, “Anyone that’s ever loved that much and has had to see that fall apart – of course you’re angry, of course you’re bitter! And so I allow myself to feel that angry, to feel that hurt. I don’t want to anaesthetize myself because how I am I going to get through it if I don’t confront it? How?”
 
She’s also not afraid to confront her own frailties and failings, as she does on the gorgeous piano ballad “In love with the past,” in which she laments, ‘With everything I do / I betray you,’ and finally acknowledges that she’s not strong enough to bear any more pain.
 
Incongruence of love
 
Hays said the album’s dominant theme is “wrestling with love.” On the opener, “My love,” she warns against falling in love but in almost the same breath whispers, “For true love / There is nothing / I would not do.”
 
​In another song she immerses herself in a “sublime love” and on the sparkling, hymnal ballad “Time for love” – arguably her most accessible tune so far – she declares, “Let romance begin…. This is the start of something beautifully divine.”
 
In “Do I really have to say the words?” she states simply, “I love you.”
 
But then she plunges into the pain of love gone wrong in “I sing the blues” and “Over my shoulders,” where she sings “Better to run / I can’t stay here with you / Knowing I am not the one / You would turn to / On your darkest days.” And on “In love with the past,” she exclaims that she’s in love only with that – the past.
 
“Well, life isn’t black and white,” Hays said of the apparent incongruity. “Love is a multifaceted, complicated thing.”

Love is complicated and her music reflects that, says Auriol Hays (A. Hays)Love is complicated and her music reflects that, says Auriol Hays (A. Hays)
x
Love is complicated and her music reflects that, says Auriol Hays (A. Hays)
Love is complicated and her music reflects that, says Auriol Hays (A. Hays)
Then she acknowledged, “I don’t have the most balanced view on love…. I am constantly falling in and out of love, swinging between belief in love and complete mistrust and distrust of it, failing to distinguish between lust and love. Do you know how hard it is to distinguish between lust and love? It’s insane! It’s very, very hard! The one masquerades as the other brilliantly!”
 
But she hastily added, “Put two people who are in front of me who are in love – oh! You would hear me gush and I will sing my soul out for those two people if I know they are in the audience.”
 
Hays’s latest record may well be a testament to a period in her life when love abandoned her, but for many others it could signal the beginning of an enduring relationship with her music.
 
See Auriol Hays video of single ‘Better Man’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zlXp4Y2i_A

Listen to profile of South African vocalist Auriol Hays
Listen to profile of South African vocalist Auriol Haysi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid