Paris-based Cuban singer, flutist and percussionist Yaite Ramos Rodriguez, better known as La Dame Blanche, couldn’t have dropped her fourth full-length album, Ella, at a more timely moment.
On the follow-up to her 2018 album Bajo El Mismo Cielo, Ramos Rodriguez creates a journey where women from around the world can see themselves reflected through a nuanced exploration of the many sides of her personal and artistic identity. Oh, and it helps that it slaps.
The songs on Ella represent a different part of Ramos Rodriguez’s multifaceted self. It presents ten opportunities to address hard, important topics in under four minutes each. Produced by frequent collaborator and live musician Marc “Babylotion” Damblé, the album is also a rich, tasty buffet of genres and she truly embodies a different woman on each of them through distinct vocal performances.
Album opener “La Creyente” kicks things off with a bang, highlighting La Dame Blanche’s flute skills while giving us a dancehall feel. Here, she taps into her spirituality, sending prayers up for everyone regardless of their wrongdoings or good intentions as she takes shots at racism and colonialism in the same breath. Race-related topics and Caribbean flavor are also present on reggae number “La Condenada,” where she’s fed up with the “angry black woman” stereotype that has affected her life and opportunities.
She uses trap stylings to criticize the use of the term “American” to categorize the people from a single English-speaking nation (“La Americana”), explores feelings of romantic and sexual desire (“La Mentalista”), and makes political commentary in French (“La Exiliada”). But she shows she can easily flick the switch and turn to dark reggaeton on “La Desconfiada” where she runs us through the ways in which history and society have changed her into an untrusting human being.
More traditional sounds are also reinterpreted on Ella. Over the folkloric polyrhythms of the Tres Palabras-featuring “La Chamaca,” Ramos Rodriguez paints a picture of a proud independent girl who takes the world in her hand despite external judgment. Then, though she shyly suggests issues with an otherwise wonderful man on the classic guitar-led “La Incondicional,” she breaks away from a physically, and psychologically, abusive relationship on “La Maltratada” and calls everyone trapped in a similar situation to do so too.
With Ella, La Dame Blanche isn’t scared to turn the mirror inwards in order to start much-needed conversations. Through her own empowerment, she encourages women to find their own. She peels her layers before our eyes without an inch of self-judgment and the result is absolutely powerful.