Folk | Soul
reggae and folk icon ayo searches for joy on her compelling self-titled album
By Nathan Leigh
October 6, 2017
On her 5th studio record, Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin–better as Ayo, meaning Joy in Yoruba–tries to live up to her name. The singer-songwriter instills every song with a sense of joy, or at least hope. Even the darkest song, the Mike Brown inspired “Boom Boom” struggles to find light in darkness. Though the song’s dark children’s rhyme and gunshot drum beats can be jarring against some of the rest of the album, it provides the emotional anchor that makes the pervading joy, not fluff, but defiant joy. Just 4 songs later, she’s singing an ode to candy (with a shoutout to the best ice cream shop in Brooklyn, Ample Hills).
That “Cupcake & Candies” and “Boom Boom” belong on the same album is a testament to Ayo‘s emotional complexity. The struggle to find joy is present in all the album’s best tracks. “Let It Rain” and “I’m A Fool” both find Ayo looking for the joy she expresses elsewhere. The album closes with a stripped down acoustic hidden track. The French language song “Everything” strips back Ayo’s multitracked vocals and rhythms and lets her heart lay bare. It’s one of the album’s most compelling moments in its simplicity. It’s the moment when joy is simplest that it’s most genuine.
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