Yola: Walk Through Fire review – Impressive country-soul debut

Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 07:00

   
 

Album:
Walk Through Fire

Artist:
Yola

Label:
Easy Eye Sound

Genre:
R&B / Soul

She sounds like she was raised well south of the Mason-Dixon line in a small town where country and soul found common cause, agonising over life and love. But Yola Carter (now shorn to her first name for this debut solo album) grew up near Bristol, where she shone in the local music scene without getting the big break beloved of lore.

Enter Dan Auerbach of Black Keys fame. He heard her sing and resolved to work with her. The result is this tasty retro country-soul confection that taps into her love of classic country-soul and Americana fed through Auerbach’s remarkable grasp of the relevant genres.

It helps when you have co-writers of the calibre of Dan Penn, musicians such as veteran pianist Bobby Wood and co-singers such as Vince Gill (a burning duet on the feverish Keep Me Here).

Though they play their part, the spotlight never leaves Yola, whether when she summons the ghost of Dusty Springfield for the opening Faraway Look or tacks into country-gospel for the gritty It Ain’t Easier and the autobiographical title track.

While some songs are more style than substance, this is an impressive debut.