Dawn Richard’s “’86” evokes Kate Bush as much as it does current R&B chart-topper Rihanna, and like the British art-pop giant, she’s unafraid to borrow from the distant past. The chain mail from Richard’s recent Armor On EP reappears in the new video for this standout from Essential album GoldenHeart, a cryptic but visually masterful clip set in a forest that belongs almost equally to the South and medieval England.
Directed by ELY, whose knack for capturing sumptuous choreography previously surfaced in work for Minnesota pop explorers Poliça, the video shows Richard dancing, with ballet-like grace, amid wind-strewn leaves. There are female dancers in gorgeous, old-timey hats. There’s a loving family. And then, chain-mailed outsiders show up to dance-fight with Richard.
“I can’t run away from love,” the former Diddy-Dirty Money vocalist sings, with consummate poise and no unnecessary frills, backed by honeyed synths Phil Collins would once have sold his soul to Miami Vice for. She stands her ground. No other spoilers, but the very last shot is also worth watching.