Yola: Stand for Myself review – retro country soul with bite

·1 min read

By rights, Yola should be trumpeted as one of the UK’s hottest exports. Her 2019 debut Walk Through Fire was nominated for four Grammys; she plays Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s forthcoming Elvis biopic. But this Brighton singer, born Yolanda Quartey, has gone native in Nashville, pairing her elastic, retro voice with a vintage, soulful roll of the kind favoured by Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who returns as producer here.

Stand for Myself remains attuned to these country-soul stylings, but the full ingredients list is long: old-timey doo-wop on Great Divide, Brandi Carlile backing vocals, plus subtle British inflections – really, Yola and Michael Kiwanuka need to talk. Laid atop these comforting sounds are bang up-to-date themes. Diamond Studded Shoes bristles at economic inequity. “Isolated, we hold in our fears,” she sings on the languorous Barely Alive.

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