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Yola-Stand for Myself ALBUM REVIEW


Written Before Listen


Before this, I had no idea who Yola was. That is until she released this new album and got positive acclaim through a lot of sites and blogs. This album also so happens to be produced by Dan Auerbach of Black Keys fame. Knowing Auerbachs previous work as well as doing production for Dr. John, Ray LaMontagne, and Lana Del Rey, I know Dan mainly produces artists with an authentic, classic, and soulful sound. To get a glimpse of what I was getting into, I looked at her NPR Tiny Desk concert. It seems that she creates Soul music with a little bit of country laced into it. She’s unique enough to get me intrigued. Let’s see what Yola has in store for us.



Production


When it comes to Dan Auerbach as a producer, I usually saw him as authentic and raw. This time around, he is turning corners completely as I’ve never heard anything richer from this man. He also (like expected) does some of the guitars on this record but he brought multiple performers to play on this album. The guitars are fuzzy, the bass is melodic, the drums are crisp and the keyboards are very good fill-ups. The production on here is done to its best.


Influences


Yola is hard to pinpoint. She’s a soul artist but with a lot of country influence as well. Surely people like Al Green and Minnie Ripperton come to mind but also people like Sturgill Simpson too. There are also some a-ha moments. There is a session musician who’s worked with Roy Orbison and that’s somewhat of an eye-opener. Surely people like Bill Withers and Ray Charles should be mentioned because they have meshed country and soul in similar ways. On the instrumental side of things, there are surely people like Marin Gaye and Are the Franklin but I also got a slight hint of ABBA with tracks like “Dancing Away In Tears” and “Starlight”. As you can see, Yola takes a lot of pages from a lot of books and re-iterates them into her style.


Genre-Bending


As I already said, Yola is an artist who is hard to define. She’s soul but also country, but there’s a lot of pop aspects to it too. It’s mainly a Pop Soul record that just so happens to take influence from Nashville country, psychedelic soul, and Blues Rock. In my opinion, the best songs on the album are the pure country tracks such as “Diamond Studded Shoes” and “Be My Friend”. It’s still impressive that she’s able to bend styles just like that. Look at the last three tracks for example. The track “Break The Bough” is a very old school track that is rock & soul if there was ever a thing. Right after that, we get “Like A Photograph” which is a psyched-out ballad with country undertones. Then, we get the last track which is a true and blue Blues Rock track. It ends off the album in a great way as it’s just a banger. Overall, I’d have to say that I’ve never heard anything in 2021 that’s genuinely close to this when it comes to the crossover between country and soul.

Vocal Performance


Now, let’s go to the vocals. Is Yola a good performer? Yes, she is. Is she anything unique? I’d say so. She’s a really good singer that can always stay in tune. I don’t know how, but her powerful voice doesn’t go out of the register. That’s all there is to it. She’s a good singer that is very powerful. Her voice is aggressive and passionate. Honestly, when it comes to vocals, There have been a good amount of singers who’ve impressed me but she’s probably top 3 on the vocal performance chart at least (alongside Olivia Rodrigo and Spellling).


Cons


Well, I guess some of the music becomes a little redundant or derivative. I think Yola has a long time to develop her craft. This album was really solid. If I had to explain this album as a dad joke, it would go like this…well, Yola might not stand for herself as an artist but stands for herself with confidence, charisma, and excellent production.


Verdict


This impressed me. I enjoyed this, but would I say that I loved it? Not really. It’s a solid collection of songs with the addition of 3-4 amazing ones. I think Yola’s vocal talent, genre-bending, and songwriting ability can take her music to the next level very shortly.



7/10





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