This week’s blog celebrates the talent that is Yola.
It’s a delight to say that at (nearly) the half way point in 2019, for the second year in succession, the stand out record is by a female solo artist. ‘Walk Through Fire’ works because, in very simple terms, once you put it on you really don’t want to take it off. It’s peppered with delights all the way through. From the excellent, ‘Faraway Look’ though to ‘Love is Light’ there isn’t a weak song on the album.
There is so much to enjoy about Yola’s voice that she does, of course, deserve all the credit. However I need to talk about some of the great collaborators. Firstly there’s the production skills of Dan Auerbach, from the Black Keys. We’ve been big fans of The Black Keys and Dan’s various solo adventures for a few years now. His move to Nashville seemed to awaken him to the great strength of songwriting talent in the city and he’s harnessed all of that to assemble a brilliant repertoire of material for the Yola album.
What’s so impressive is the range of writers: Bobby Wood (Elvis Presley pianist), Pat McLaughlin (Songs by Bonnie Raitt,Tricia Yearwood, Lee Ann Womack) Dan Penn (Aretha Franklin,James Carr) John Bettis (The Carpenters) and Joe Allen (Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard).
It’s a dazzling array of talent that might, in other hands, seem a little overwhelming, but with the safe oversight of Dan Auerbach and the skills of Yola the whole project breezes along beautifully. It’s great too that the album has been recognised by the Americana community who have already nominated it for an award in September’s festival. There’s also acknowledgement of its impact as Yola joins Kacey Musgraves for a string of US dates later this year.
Yola wears all of this new high profile status lightly. She’s still the young woman from Bristol we knew and loved when we first encountered her a couple of years back and she’s as pleased as any of us that she’s moving in such exalted circles. We’ll have an extended conversation with Yola, play some great cuts from the album and then celebrate the songwriters and artists who have made such a vital contribution to the project. Listen out for Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstadt and John Prine.
Listen too for our tribute to a much loved Nashville songwriter, Ralph Murphy who died last week. No one had a bad word to say about Ralph and he looked out for songwriters wherever they were working. He’ll be hugely missed.
As ever we’re on air at five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland.