Yola – Rough Trade, Bristol

Wednesday 27th February, 2019

Rough Trade has been such a bonus to Bristol, both as a record shop, and as a live venue that I keep an eye on their listings keenly. It is perfect for events like tonight, record launches and intimate shows. It was the first time I’d been seated there, I’d like more of that please Rough Trade.

I got the ticket for this quite a while back, based solely on the description on Rough Trade’s website.  Then the more I read about Yola, the more I knew I would like her. A local lass, from Portishead, and with a fairly interesting life behind her, I was expecting songs full of heart and soul. I got them.

Soulful, country tinged and BIG is all I can say about Yola’s voice. You just believe her. When she sings about walking through fire you know, just know, feel in your bones, that she really has. Even without her telling the story of actually being on fire and watching her home burning, the power, control and storytelling of her voice carries you on the journey with her. Allegedly tonight she was tired, having flown in from Nashville on Monday, but if this was Yola half asleep I’m kinda scared as to what she would be like fully awake! I’m not sure the microphone was entirely needed, I’m pretty sure we would have heard her without it. From next door.

Powerful of voice and personality she deserves all the plaudits being thrown at her. I can imagine hearing most of these songs on radio in 20 years and singing along, the way I do now to Aretha or Dusty or Loretta Lynn. Anyone who can marry perfect technique with emotional clout is a superb singer. Anyone who can sing country and soul with a tinge of blues at the same time is a superb singer. Anyone who can take their story and make is universal is a superb singer. Anyone who can sound fresh and timeless all at once is a superb singer.  Yola is all that.

She tours towards the end of May, hitting Bristol again on June 1st. Sadly I won’t be able to get to that show, as I would love to hear Yola with full band. If you can, you should. You should also buy the album.

I love country music and I love soul music. Yola is both in the most beautiful blend. The sort of great pop tunes I thought no one made anymore. The ones that make you sing, dance and feel things. Proper, well crafted pop songs with stories, heart and great production. You should hear them, you’ll love them.

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