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Yola - Stand for Myself

  by Zena Grieg

published: 23 / 8 / 2021

Yola - Stand for Myself
Label: Easy Eye Sound
Format: CD


Eclectic and fiery second album from powerhouse Bristol-born and now Nashville-based singer-songwriter Yola

Yolanda Quartey, aka Yola, a Bristol-born singer-songwriter, now resident in Nashville, has bum her second album ‘Stand For Myself’, the follow-up to her rootsy Americana debut ‘Walk Through Fire’, which was a big hit in the USA in 2019. This new album, produced by Black Keys' frontman Dan Auerbach, showcases her versatility, coupling her sensitive, emotional lyrics with her impressive powerhouse vocal ability. A collection transversing blues and country, incorporating 60s and 70s pop and soaring gospel, ‘Stand For Myself’ is also thematically varied – from dealing with sexuality in the sultry, sensual ‘Starlight’ to an uplifting take on mortality in the catchy ‘Break the Bough’. Resilience is a key theme throughout the album as in the survivor anthem ‘Barely Alive’ and ‘If I Had To Do It All Again’; and there is an upbeat country ode to friendship ‘Be My Friend,’ featuring vocals from Brandi Carlile. Yola described the album as “like a window into my mind, my life experiences, my politics, my hopeful and sentimental sides, and my hope for humanity at large." She hopes it will connect with anyone made to feel “other.” There are many highlights in this twelve-track collection, centred on the duality of vulnerability and strength, but some standout tracks are: the soulful opener ‘Barely Alive’ with a poignant exhortation to live in the moment and make the most of your chances, a reference also to the singer’s experience of being homeless on the streets of London: “When will you start living (Start living)/Now that you’ve survived? (That you’ve survived)”; the catchy ‘Diamond Studded Shoes’, the first single from the album, taking on societal injustice and the need to stand up for your rights: “Watching and waiting for answers/Hoping we might see the light/You beat it into us like a hammer/So don’t you tell me it’ll be alright/When we know it isn’t/….Fight/For the life and soul of the world we know/Fight/’Cause the promise is never gonna be enough”; and the title track closer, with Yola’s soaring vocals over crashing electric guitars, and its ultimate inspiring optimism: “Now I’m alive, it’s hard to explain/It took this much time, it took this much pain/You can get here if you’re willing/Let go of yourself for a new beginning… I was lost in the city, you could see it in my eyes/But I was still a dreamer in the middle of the night,” bringing this enthralling, magnetic album to an epic finale. A name to look out for, Yola is also set to star alongside Tom Hanks as Rock and Roll pioneer Rosetta Thorpe in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming big budget Elvis biopic. Eclectic, spirited, sublimely nuanced, ’Stand For Myself’ is an exciting precursor of the future for this highly talented and engaging musician.

Track Listing:-
1 Barely Alive
2 Dancing Away In Tears
3 Diamond Studded Shoes
4 Be My Friend
5 Great Divide
6 Starlight
7 If I Had To Do It All Again
8 Now You're Here
9 Whatever You Want
10 Break The Bough
11 Like A Photograph
12 Stand For Myself

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