Ibeyi Ash Xl Recordings
The moniker Ibeyi, a musical project of Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Díaz, is taken from the Yoruba word for the spirit shared by twins. On Ash, the luscious follow-up to their 2015 debut album, the French-Cuban sisters layer their voices with tight harmonies to channel this spirit.
There is an element of prayer folded into Ash. Songs like Deathless and Transmission/Michaelion centre around the call-and-response structure of a preacher and their congregation. A gospel choir joins triumphantly alongside an excerpt from Claudia Rankine’s audiobook Citizen: An American Lyric to announce a shift of scenery to serene tranquility – “like underwater”.
Elsewhere, the twins team up with Mala Rodriguez on Me Voy for a radio-friendly reggaeton-lite track sung in Spanish. I Wanna Be Like You finds its groove on a stomping adult-contemporary beat. Ibeyi don’t wander too far from their spiritual pulpit: the song’s middle eight is delivered like a sermon when the drums fall out and the lyrics return to metaphors of rivers and the sun.
The album is ripe with samples, ranging from a Bulgarian choir on I Carried this for Years, to Michelle Obama on the album’s striking centrepiece No Man is Big Enough for my Arms. The song could be interpreted as a contemporary reimagining of It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World for the women of 2017. The sisters declare their independence: they won’t stand still; they won’t be shamed. The song ends with a tsunami of applause as Obama says what every young woman deserves to hear: “And I told them that they should disregard anyone who demeans or devalues them, and that they should make their voices heard in the world”. With Ash, Ibeyi’s voice is amplified.