Review: Walk Through Fire by Yola

Walk Through Fire by YolaIt’s not that nostalgia in modern music is a new thing, but only recently have we seen acts double down on the sounds of decades gone by and only slightly update it for modern tastes. Inevitably we’ll see an act that doesn’t even bother updating because all that matters is the sound. That act, at least for this year, is Yola, coming from east London, whose debut Walk Through Fire is the soul/country crossover you didn’t know should exist, and yet feels like it has existed for decades. (And arguably, it has.) Thanks to an assist from Dan Auerbach, whose work has fused those retro sounds for modern times, Yola comes in strong, with lush instrumentation that wouldn’t sound out of place on scratchy vinyl accompanying her versatile and distinctive voice. It’s a good mood piece, this: good to drive to, or to do some weekend house cleaning to. But much as I enjoyed it, I can’t help but wonder if the template would still apply if the songs attempted to tackle more modern themes. Throwbacks are nice, but it will feel weird after a while if we’re stuck with that. [NB]3/5

“Nobody moves the way you do.”

“Faraway Look” by Yola | All right, one more I found through Belgian radio, but, sure, Yola is British. And her debut album, out tomorrow – maybe I should review it? – is produced by Dan Auerbach, whose sound is, I’ll have to say, reasonably American. But still, wow. This is such a big song, both because her vocals are quite distinctive, and because the production around it just ties in very nicely. I probably have heard this song many times this past week, but I’ve been so busy I forget to make mental notes. Today, however, my worst nightmare happened: the external hard drive containing all my songs has gone corrupt, so, while I’m off hoping I can recover everything, well, this song feels apt. [NB]