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Watching the video of Auriol Hays’ latest single, A Better Man, it is evident the Cape Town songstress has evolved in the past year.
The video, which depicts Hays clad in a medieval punk style outfit and dramatic make-up, with clay- plastered bodies dancing around her while she visits a fortune teller, is visual artistry that tells a story. This story is a no-holds barred open love letter that digs into the emotional turmoil that results when love goes wrong, which is revealed in Call it Love: Anima Sola – her second album.
Moving slightly away from the pop which was evident on her first album, Call it Love: Anima Sola is a charming blend of soul, jazz and the blues.
The sultry vocalist showcases a strong-willed woman who will not be had in Devil Woman. A mix of ballads with powerful messages, the CD also boasts a Portuguese track, O Meu Amor, penned by Lionel Bastos.
A rather subdued Hays, minus the dramatic persona, quips: “I prefer to keep it in the bedroom,” when we meet at Milestone Studios in Cape Town. She is recording for the upcoming third season of Jam Sandwich, a reality/documentary series in which she will feature with another band to create an original song.
Since being nominated for a Sama for Turn Up the Volume off her debut album Behind Closed Doors, Hays has had to deal with her marriage ending.
Hays shares of Call It Love: Anima Sola: “I was going to call the album Devil Woman but my mom, who is deeply religious, said ‘no ways’, because people aren’t that open minded. In the song, In love with the Past, it’s the chorus: call it comfort, call it love, that I stole the title from.”
A Better Man, reveals Hays, has to do with “that final act of betrayal”.
The singer has allowed her personal agonies to seep into her music and is not afraid to tackle her imperfections and shortcomings. Some of her songs are menacing, others playful and some filled with electronic tinges, acoustic guitars and the piano all blended together to deliver a fresh sound.
“I’ve been writing this material for the past two years, it has been very rough for me and that was a place where I could find to place it.
“People like to think there are things you can and can’t forgive, but you can’t and you don’t want the constant reminder of it. How I wrote and sang it has had a big impact. It’s not entirely my own stories, but that of my sisters and friends, too.”
Apart from baring her soul through her music, Hays has a love for blogging which she takes to quite often. In her latest post she candidly talks about her notions on waiting for a man: “This idea of waiting intrigues me.”
“Auriol, I am waiting for that man to come along.”
“You know that guy, the one who has every desirable attribute under the sun. Any man who does not meet those unrealistic standards is immediately dismissed. And so the waiting starts once again…
“Seriously! I don’t have that much time to waste just sitting around waiting. I have a life to get on with, but even I get it wrong – as my daughter pointed out.
“Mummy you over-think things. If you want to call a man – then call him!”.
“It’s easier for me to share my pain, regret and grief, but who I love, that I keep deeply private. I learnt a lot from being married. I’m not interested in a man completing me, even if it means going to a sex shop,” she chuckles.
“The writing is cathartic – you write to even yourself out, that’s why I’m still standing in one piece.
“I’m a storyteller so I’m going to share what I’m going through – sometimes it shocks and it’s not meant to.”
The songstress has a love for Ben Harper, who is a great influence on most of her music, and whips out her phone to show me pictures of him.
“He’s the one who helped me through. At 2am, I would walk to the beach and be in such a mess and listening to his music always kept me together – he’s my safe place,” she smiles.