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.