Yola ‘Walk Through Fire’ LP/CD (Easy Eye Sound) 5/5

My first introduction to this wonderful voice was on the Jules Holland New Year’s Eve doo where she sang the immense soaring beat ballad “Faraway Look” – I was hooked. There are not too many people who give Ruby Turner a run for their money but she damn well came close, and then nothing. Four days ago I was thumbing through Record Collector whilst waiting for the good lady to finish the shopping and I saw a short review of the album, my appetite was further wetted when I read she’d been in Nashville and that Dan Penn had been involved. Anyway the vinyl is here and I can’t stop playing the beautiful mid paced stroller, “Keep Me Here”, kicking off with gentle keys, bass, guitar and then we’re off on an emotional ride, what a song, what superb lyrics. She soars high above the sweeping strings and that magical musical landscape which includes a piano keeps everyone under her spell. Well she has me well and truly hooked, of course “Faraway Look” is on here and it still has that deep attraction, other highlights are the down-low “Deep Blue Dream”, which meanders along taking its time to rinse every emotion out of you.

Twelve tracks that all have something to offer. “Lonely the Night” will have you paying attention from the opening caressing of the cymbals and then it morphs into one those tic toc foot tapping pieces that become so irresistible, you know what, Denise Lasalle would have been lorded for putting this out. The vibraphone played by Mike Rojas is a particular warming sound and echoes the sound of Nashville country music. You know I like to give you the names of all involved but the list of musicians and instruments played is vast, the album was produced by Dan Auerbach, Alan Parker was responsible for the recording and engineering at Easy Eye Sound. The album ends with the builder that is “Love is Light”, a superb way to leave you wanting for more. There will be a lot of my soul peers who won’t touch this with a barge-pole because I’ve mentioned the dreaded word ‘Country’ whilst describing a ‘soul’ album, but being a southern soul collector of some 50+ years I know how close the musical genres are and historically in this neck of the woods they are so intrinsically linked. An utterly fabulous ride from start to finish, however she may not be country enough for some or soulful enough for others, what a lovely dilemma.

Brian Goucher