Review | Songlines

ELLA

Rating: ★★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details

Artist/band:

La Dame Blanche

Label:

Boa Viagem Music

November/2020

La Dame Blanche is Yaite Ramos Rodriguez, daughter of Jesús ‘Aguaje’ Ramos, trombonist and musical director of the Buena Vista Social Club. A singer and musician in a sprawling Afro-Cuban family teeming with them – there are stories of her being literally squeezed out of household jams. She left for Europe early, determined to blaze her own trail. In Paris she shape-shifted into the character of La Dame Blanche, the dangerous ‘White Lady’ of myth, reinventing the latter’s mystique using her own Santería beliefs, and brewing a melting pot of influences from funk, jazz and hip-hop to cumbia and reggaeton, danzón and dancehall.

La Dame Blanche is best experienced live, wielding her flute like a weapon alongside producer, guitarist and electro-shaman Marc ‘Babylotion’ Damblé and percussionist Pierre Manguard. But this fourth LP – her best yet – bottles her attitude-laden vibe. Dedicated to her mother, it’s a concept album whose ten tracks tell the stories of ten different women. ‘La Mentalista’ is jittery, snappy Cuban trap music, all hi-hats and low-end bass samples, sung with heart and fiercely-rolled ‘r’s and threaded with rocking flute; ‘La Creyente’ (‘The Believer’) sees her calling-and-responding with herself in ways rousing and mesmeric; and album highlight ‘La Maltratada’, with its arresting, declamatory vocals, recalls the great Totó La Momposina. Songs for women variously condemned, mistreated, suspicious and exiled are, you suspect, all aspects of La Dame Blanche. And how she revels in letting them speak.

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