- 01 May 19
Shipshape And Bristol Fashion
Who would have thought it? Yola actually hails from Bristol. I point this out because this is a marvellously authentic-sounding slice of country/soul, more the kind of thing you’d expect from the banks of the Mississippi than the Avon. Determined to build on the promise of 2016’s debut E.P. Orphan Offering, and frustrated with being pigeonholed at home, this fine record pairs Yola with Black Key Dan Auerbach and his seasoned gang at his Easy Eye Sound Studio in Nashville.
As a producer, Auerbach seems to have the golden touch when it comes to adding authenticity – I’m thinking of records from Dr. John, The Pretenders and Ray LaMontagne, to name but a few – but this album belongs to Yola. Putting aside her monumental voice just for a second - although it is the central pillar of the whole enterprise – that prominent fiddle was already there on the previous EP as were her song writing chops. The songs are better here but how could they not be with the likes of Auerbach himself and writers of the calibre of the god-like Dan Penn (‘Dark End Of The Street’ and a hundred others) on board? The fact that Penn bothered to tog out at all is a sure-fire indicator of the quality on offer.
For the most part, Yola’s approach is subtle, holding back the power until the Liberty Hall dwarfing choruses of ‘Faraway Look’, ‘Rock Me Gently’ or ‘Lonely The Night’. The title track goes full porch holler, ‘Still Gone’ sports sixties pop, it’s all good. Great songs, great sound and a great voice, it’s a record as rewarding and successful as that other English buswoman’s holiday in Tennessee, Dusty In Memphis, and you can’t say fairer than that.