Released earlier this month, ‘Freedom’ tells the true story of a young Saudi woman, Rahaf Mohammed, who risked everything to escape oppression and find freedom. This choice of topic is not unusual for outspoken indie folk duo Naz & Ella: the pair consistently brings a modern edge to traditional singer-songwriter protest songs by tackling current and often controversial issues through their music, such as Brexit (‘In Limbo’) or homelessness (‘Blind Eye’).
With ‘Freedom’, Naz & Ella explore a difficult subject but still manage to convey a sense of hope. The song begins with soft finger-picked guitar and evolves into a catchier rhythmic chorus supported by percussion and subtle harmonies as Rahaf’s story unfolds: She was running from evil / A brutal regime / Where freedom is a luxury / All she wants / Is to decide her own fate / Be who she wants to be.
But my favourite part is probably the bridge, where singing turns into an echoing spoken word part and the lyrics switch from third to first-person narrative, as a symbol of Rahaf’s empowerment: Today, I can proudly say I make my own decisions […] / Today, and for years to come / I will work in support of freedom for women around the world.
While focusing on a specific person’s journey, ‘Freedom’ also contains a universal message of resilience and self-affirmation, beautifully delivered by heartfelt vocals and a stripped-back acoustic sound that carries Naz & Ella’s refreshing authenticity.