- 03 Aug 21
You Know She's Got Soul
Ms Yolanda Quartey’s 2019 debut album, Walk Through The Fire, is a cast iron country soul classic, where songs of some hard times were perfectly matched with Black Keys hero Dan Auerbach’s golden production skills, all topped off with a voice that would have had Aretha Franklin looking behind her to see what's going on.
Auerbach is back again, working the faders with his usual consummate skill but this is all Yola; it’s just as great as the first one, and it might even be better. That Southern soul that she made her own is there in the pedal steel behind ‘Whatever You Want’, the twangy tremolo guitar in ‘If I Had To Do It Again’, the gospel-tinged ‘Be My Friend’ and the honky tonk piano and slide solo in the brilliant, grin guaranteeing single, ‘Diamond Studded Shoes’.
Added to that is the walking bass line and Gamble and Huff brass on ‘Dance Away In Tears’ where she makes breaking up sound like a heavenly experience, the Pet Sounds keyboard in ‘Barely Alive’ that opens the album, the percussion, bittersweet strings and what sounds like a harpsichord on ‘Starlight’, and the Motown pop sheen, brass stabs and Jamerson-like bass driving ‘Break The Bough’. Bacharach himself wouldn’t sneeze at the chord changes in the verses of ‘Now You’re Here’ or the piano riff in ‘Like A Photograph’, and if the more modern title track sounds slightly like it belongs on another record, then that’s probably a great record too.
On top of it all are Yola’s golden pipes, reaching down into her boots one minute, hollering up in God’s neighbourhood the next. You could point at the vocal on any song, but when she pushes herself into the red and then breaks out the falsetto on reason-vinyl-was-invented ‘The Great Divide’, you might just get religion. A near-perfect record from a voice that makes you feel glad to be alive.