The Effortless Melange that is IBEYI
An Album Review of Their Eponymous Debut
Mortals, musicians and followers of all things music, I hail thee. I’m glad to finally be back on the site after what seemed to be a stretched hiatus. I have spent the year so far discovering new music, forming opinions, travelling and working on music of my own; amongst other things.
On my journeys I discovered the blessing known to us as IBEYI. A French-Cuban duo made up of twin sisters, Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz. They sing in English and Yoruba, a Nigerian language their ancestors spoke before being brought to Cuba by the Spanish.
Lisa’s is the lead voice. Naomi plays traditional Yoruba-Cuban percussion instruments cajón and Batá drum, while Lisa also plays piano.
Ibeyi is pronounced ee-bey-ee. In the Yoruba language this translates as “twins”.
Their music is a poignant mix of Yoruba, French, and Afro-Cuban and fuses rock syncopation and synths with jazz with a hint of Afro-beat (when I say Afro-beat, please allude to Fela and not the bubble-gum stuff we hear on European radio tagged as such irrespective of its lack of similarity to the true form.) When I listen to them, I hear the vibrancy of the Buena Vista Social Club, the knowledge of self and depth of Asa and Nneka and maybe even the mystery of Imogen Heap. Yes. They are that great.
The Album review.
I would have loved to review it track by track but I discover in doing this I will leave nothing for you all to desire. So I will review my most resonating tracks and then give you a verdict.
Elegua: This acapela opens the album for us. Elegua the Yoruba god of crossroads is offered a prayer in this song. One in which they ask that he does not turn from them even as he is a good god whom they have come to. “Echu Odara. Omo ni a l’a wa maa ma ke n’irawo e.” (Yes I barely understand Nigerian Yoruba and so I write what I hear.)
What we like about this track?
Its introduction of the duo as singers in their own right. Without the fanciness of instrumentation.
Oya: This a prayer to the goddess of the river. Also known as Osun. They speak of having found or gained nothing without having been touched by the figurative hand of Oya. Hence ”Take me Oya” And the single plea to be spoken to to at the end solidifies the theme. “Oya we mi l’oro e.(Bathe me with your word Oya.)
Ghosts: This is the first song that speaks to someone else other than the deities whom they hold dear. Lisa sings to a lover and asks that she can feel this love indeed because she will not lie but her ghosts are still with her but she needs said love because:
”We are nothing without love” This is a track that resonates with everyone. Love is indeed a beautiful thing and the bajon playing mellow hip-hop beat made this track even more beautiful.
River: SOUL FUSION! That is all I can say about this track. Have you seen the video? If not, find it. “We mi le Osun… Osun de de”
Mama Says: This song speaks on how sad they had to watch their mother feel after the passing of their father, Anga Diaz, percussionist with the Buenos Vista Club. The story they tell also resonates with the story of Oya. Wife and lover of Sango, god of thunder who was so distraught after his demise that she left her twins- Ibeyi to be cared for by Yemoja , Eldest wife of Sango and Mother of Earth. I liked the subtle duality of the story behind this track. ☺
Singles: The Single (wo)man’s theme song!!!
It speaks on the questions on the mind of a singleton like:
Will I feel the warmth and reassurance of love?
When will love find me?
Just why me really???
“Oh Lord…who will come and take this weight?”
Because: “Singles go back latest; searching love of their own…”
I’m grateful for an album I can put on repeat for 24 hours this year!
We at @Musiceyz adore your music. The love you show for the craft has been unrivalled this year. My only regret this year was that tickets for gigs in March and July in Paris were sold out since Feb☹
P.s They are signed to XL Recordings.
Buy on Itunes—- https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/ibeyi/id933323057
Review by Natalie Wemambu