We Plug To You... IBIYEMI - Love Always Wins

The first time I heard this soulful songbird, I went "Wow! What a deep and husky voice!", she reminded me a lot of Tracy Chapman's vocal essence and texture. I actually just recently posted one of her songs titled "Can You Love Me?"on my Facebook profile - her first release as a solo recording artiste - little did I know she had actually already been in the studio and cooked up some great tunes by way of her debut release and I would be reviewing some of them here for your listening pleasure...

In light of this, with positive soul and 'feel good' vibes, we gladly plug to you... IBIYEMI. Born on May 22, 1981 in California, USA, Ibiyemi started off as a backing vocalist in 2003 for various artistes before a major performance of the Nigerian National anthem at the 228th USA Independence ceremony kicked off her solo career. With her debut album 'Love Always Wins', Ibiyemi set out to blow us all away and we think she's done exactly that on this 12-track record, tracks of which we will be plugging to you in this feature.

Her debut single - 2009's "Don't Leave Me" was met with relative success and garnered her a nomination for Best Female Vocal Performance at the 2010 Hip-Hop World Awards as well as a nomination form Best R&B Song at the 2010 Sound City Music Awards among a host of other award nominations. Said to be influenced by Mary J Blige, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder and (rightly so) Tracy Chapman, Ibiyemi's sound can be described as rich, soulful and of a musical genre I will call Contemporary Afro Neo-Soul with Afrocentric vocalisms akin to Brenda Fassie and vocal energy similar to Angelique Kidjo.

What is so special about Ibiyemi's album 'Love Always Wins'? Trust me, Soul is a music genre I am personally inclined to so my take on this is extremely honestly judged. I am taken by the diverse feel and uniqueness of the songs on this project, the originality in the music composition and arrangement, the perfect fusion of afro-rythms and Soul. The four tracks from 'Love Always Wins' that are featured below represent the diversity I speak of. These four tracks especially caught my musical attention only for me to find out that they were actually produced by the same individual. WPGM decided to take it a step further and caught up with this producer... Nigeria's best kept secret, multi-talented producer, singer and songwriter - FLO. FLO had this to say about Ibiyemi's album.
"There are several singers in the Nigerian music industry with hit~banging tracks but not all of them get to strike that cord and rhythm in your head and in your heart. Ibiyemi has a unique style of delivery to her music..sincerity. You can feel that honesty in these tracks. One edge her tracks have is the ability to draw the listener in on her storyline. Whilst we were working on 'Ore' for example, I already had enough to work with by just listening to the experience she shared with me concerning her childhood friend, you could feel that innocent and pure affection even within her mode of delivery. When Ibiyemi decides to speak about love, she speaks from her heart and not her head" - FLO
We begin our plug with the Ibiyemi's brand new single "It Would Be" which was released yesterday (May 22) as a free download to mark the singer's birthday... A duet with another rising Nigerian Soul "lover boy" crooner by the name of Dipo, "It Would Be" is a powerful boy/girl love "tease" song. The chorus starts off with the phrase "Ta ba fera?" which in Yoruba means "If we love each other/fall in love with each other/marry each other" with Ibiyemi and Dipo expressing it to us nicely that "it would be so nice"... "It Would Be" will get you falling in love again. Dipo makes matters more intricate by adding that soulful R&B'ish zing to this duet. The song is believable, the groove matches the theme. It's an easy listening song with percussion and bass guitar-led R&B production laden with soulful vocals, intercepted with a nice piano solo that gives a suspensive closure to the song's story.

'It Would Be':
"Ta ba fera, baby it would be so nice, so nice.... I wanna go where your wind blows, discover places only you know"

This next song is in Yoruba and is called "Ore" which means "Friend" - it celebrates and appreciates the essence of a true and real friendship. It talks about love, kindness and a reminder and gratitude of the bond and interdependence of kindred relationships. This is an excellent song gift to that friend you appreciate. Even though the understanding of the lyrics of this track may be limited to Yoruba speakers, everyone can still enjoy the flow and feel of the music. "Ore" has an mid-tempo Afro-pop sound backed by gorgeous keyboard chords, very danceable with hip rhythms and drum patterns. Ibiyemi does excellent justice vocally throughout the song, without overdoing her natural deep tone range.

"Ore ma se gbabgbe mi lojokojo nibikibi, ma se gbagbe mi (Friend, don't forget me anyday, anywhere, don't forget me)

Is this next song the potential contender to rival another incredible song of the same title by one Jill Scott on your iPods? Possibly... The difference is Ibiyemi's "He Loves Me" is Gospel/Inspirational in content, it's an expression of God's unconditional love and it's more upbeat than Jill Scott's "He Loves Me". The intro and the backdrop of the track features a slightly electro-pop infused sound while the chorus is easy and sing-along and Ibiyemi maintains her natural depth of real Soul on this as well. "He Loves Me" is a song that makes you comfortable in spirit and in soul with Ibiyemi's assuring tone and the uplifting message about the Creator's love for you keeping you at ease in this track.

'He Loves Me':

Last but not least is the playful, pop, party-feel song rightfully named "Play". It has that 80's disco vibe to it, and FLO's signature rock sound backed by lush bass guitars and musical undertones pops out Ibiyemi's vocals excellently to incite some finger-snapping, toe-tapping moves from any listener. This track is upbeat, full of energy, perfect for the dance floor and I would submit this song for a radio mix anyday. You can't listen to this and not get moving, come on and let's boogie down till the break of dawn with Ibiyemi's "Play" below....

"Mi o ronu mo ( I am not downcast anymore), I just wanna dance to the break of dawn, DeeJay play that song"

This is one album you absolutely should own. If you want a break away from the norm, the usual and mundane music then Love Always Wins is the music for you. This is that album you would not only want to listen to but one you'd love to share with others. It's what I would refer to as a 2-in-1 album - for solace and for social interaction; for an audience of one or two as the case may be (per love and soulful communications) or for a party to groove and move to. It ticks all the boxes

Ibiyemi gets two thumbs up for the diverse collection of songs on this album. The sky is limitless for the young singer as she makes her way to making a musical mark globally amongst the current crop of afro-originated Soul singers of our generation. Her voice is not only great, it's not common plus her vibe is appealing, her message is sweet, her sound is market-worthy - it just works. Love Always Wins - the album - is definitely highly recommended. Stamped, signed and delivered... What more is there to say?

Keep Tabs on Ibiyemi: Website // Twitter // Facebook



  1. IBIYEMI is all that & more.

    Often times, people expect female vocalist to sing in a very high pitch....hit high notes like we're at an opera or something. The husky voice is exactly what sets Ibiyemi apart from other female vocalist. It's special to know how to sing; it's extra special to know how to sing like Ibiyemi.

    Nice review!
    Thumbs up to FLo as well.


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