Explore Passion and Power Dynamics in Ibeyi's Gorgeous 'Stranger / Lover'


“Stranger Lover,” a gorgeous track from the autumnal-voiced twin sisters of Ibeyi, articulates the complicated feelings one has on the cusp of a break-up, just before your partner hits the road for the last time. “This day will be our last,” they sing. “Come heal in my arms.” Within that, there are shades of sorrow and understanding, forgiveness and a total lack of regret—as generous and loving a break-up can be.

In the video, though, which is premiering here on Jezebel, they imbue it with even more shades of nuance. Anonymous hands tug and pull at the sisters’ faces and, most disarmingly, hair, such a locus of control and identity and politic, a symbol of intimacy that’s reshaped and run through. The hands are passionate and maybe represent the imprints our partners make on us long after they’re gone. There’s also a little liberated headbanging, embodying the freedom of letting go.

In case you haven’t heard of Ibeyi: it’s the project of Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz, who are the French-Cuban daughters of Buena Vista Social Club percussionist Anga Díaz, and whose debut self-titled album is sung in English and Yoruba, bridging gorgeous jazz-influenced vocals with plaintive instrumentation—trip-hop, but far less presumptuous. In a way, “Stranger/Lover” is a visual continuation of the video for last year’s “River,” which depicted the sisters submerged in baptismal waters, something like an incantation for Oshun:

I haven’t yet seen them live, but the New York Times’s Jon Pareles says it’s essentially minimalist flames:

The bare-bones arrangements were all they needed; their vocal harmonies, accompanied or barely so, were beacons of sharing and solidarity. The music wasn’t about scarcity or travail or renunciation — it was about self-sufficiency, lean and strong.

Ibeyi is about to embark on a ten-show tour of North America, kicking off September 18 in Los Angeles. If you love self-sufficiency and vocals pure with hypnotic beauty, get into it.

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via screenshot.

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