Yola - Walk Through Fire - - Soundblab

Yola - Walk Through Fire

by James Weiskittel Rating:8 Release Date:2019-02-22
Yola - Walk Through Fire
Yola - Walk Through Fire

With an impressive resume including everything from a decade-long run fronting the Brit-country outfit Phantom Limb to a brief stint with Massive Attack, Yola has been blazing her own trail for the better part of a decade. But it wasn’t until the UK-based singer-songwriter spent some time in Nashville and teamed up with the Black Keys mainman (turned high-profile producer) Dan Auerbach that her solo ambitions became a reality.

Walk Through Fire, Yola’s debut album, is an incredibly realized collection of songs that manages to meld equal parts country, gospel, soul, and rock into a surprisingly cohesive statement. For fans of Yola’s previous work, this record is a no-brainer. But make no mistake, Walk Through Fire was clearly intended to be an introduction, rather than an extension of her previous work.

And while Walk Through Fire bears many of the sonic-hallmarks of an Auerbach production (that dude loves himself some vintage instruments), it’s Yola’s incomparable voice that is appropriately on display throughout much of the record.

The album opens with the mid-tempo gem “Faraway Look”, a song that simmers until exploding into a lush, orchestrated chorus that might just be the best Neil Diamond hook this side of ‘78. “Shady Grove”, the contemplative ballad that follows, sets the stage for the album’s first single, “Ride Out In The Country”, another countrified R&B gem that underscores the power and range of Yola’s voice.

From there, Walk Through Fire explores a myriad of understated, 70’s-leaning textures. But while Yola croons and muses with the best of them, the album’s most jaw-dropping moments come by way of tracks like “It Ain’t Easier”, “Lonely The Night”, and “Still Gone”, where the singer stretches out and shows off her gospel roots. In fact, there’s a timelessness to her voice that almost begs for more room in what is, at times, an over-crowded, cluttered mix.

In many ways, Walk Through Fire feels like a throwback to a different time and place. But while the record’s twelve tracks mine nostalgia to great effect, there’s something about Yola’s undeniable voice that feels like a glimpse of the future.

 

 

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