I’m really excited about this week’s post because it features some of my favorites artists of the last few years. They all have brand new releases and not just releases but full albums! So let’s get right into it.
Ibeyi – “Deathless” feat. Kamasi Washington
The French-Cuban twin sisters Naomi & Lisa-Kaindé Díaz are better known as Ibeyi. Ibeyi, which means twins in Yoruba, is a project born and in honor of the musical lineage they come from. Their mother was a singer and their father, was famed percussionist Miguel “Anga” Diaz of Buena Vista Social Club. Immediately following his death in 2006, Naomi (who was 11 at the time), began to learn the instrument her father was famous for, the cajón. When they released their self-titled debut two years ago (combining elements of hip-hop, Afro-Cuban, jazz and Yorùbá), the sisters burst onto the scene like a force of nature. The success garnished by their first album allowed them to tour the world and they even appeared in Beyoncé’s “Lemonade.” Now the twins are back with Ash. While their first album focused on their cultural origins and the death of loved ones, their second effort explores racism, spirituality, activism and femininity. Ash features collaborations with Meshell Ndegeochello, Chilly Gonzalez, Mala Rodriguez and a KCRW favorite Kamasi Washington. The new album just dropped today and I’m sure will make plenty of top ten lists. Check out the video for their second single “Deathless” which features Kamasi.
Annabel (lee) – “Paris, Room 14”
Richard Ellis and Sheila Brown Ellis are partners in love and in art. I’ve been following this duo since I stumbled upon their music in 2015. The two go by Annabel (lee), a name inspired by an Edgar Alan Poe poem of the same name. “Annabel Lee” is the last complete poem written by Poe and was published immediately after his mysterious death. In classic Poe form, the poem is both spooky and sad; it details the death of a beautiful woman. Much like Poe’s poem, Annabel (lee)’s music sounds both haunting and pretty at the same time. Sheila’s voice is like no other and Annabel (lee)’s sound is truly unique in today’s musical landscape. Their compositions are lush and angelic, their arrangements are full of delicate melodies and perfectly placed space. I love these guys and their new album The Cleansing is exquisite! I highly encourage you to check it out, especially if you are looking for excellent music that sounds different from most of what you hear on the radio. That includes even KCRW. Take a look at a live recording of the first song on the new album, “Paris, Room 14.”
Jordan Rakei – “Goodbyes”
Born in New Zealand and now based in London, Jordan Rakei is one of my favorite singers to have emerged over the past 5 years. When listening to his music, it becomes glaringly clear that he is a direct descendant of the Soulquarian movement of the 1990s. Rakei’s sound is influenced by neo-soul luminaries of that movement such as Erykah Badu, Maxwell, Lauryn Hill, and especially, D’Angelo. I have been a fan and supporter of his since 2013 and I am both pleased and impressed with his growth as a songwriter and overall artist. Rakei has always shown the ability to express great ideas but with his new album Wallflower he shows that he can take those ideas beyond what his fans have become accustom to. This is Rakei’s most introspective work to date, as he explores his own struggles with introversion and anxiety. All while seamlessly combining soul, jazz, electronic and elements of pop. A great example of this fusion is his latest single “Goodbyes.” Listen below and also check out his recent appearance with Anthony Valadez on Looped.
(Ibeyi photo: Maya Dagnino)