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Yola Puts Nashville on Alert

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Y.O.L.O. is something kids today say meaning "you only live once" and we put that motto in action when we decided to throw caution to the wind to see rising star Yola in the middle of a severe weather outbreak in Music City. The captivating and charismatic singer made a big splash on February 23, 2019 playing a 50-minute S.R.O. set during her debut CD release party at the Analog at Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.

Yola Puts Nashville on Alert
Yola walked through the fire and into the hearts of Nashvillians.

"It's been a tornado this week," Yola laughed greeting the substantial gathering of believers who trekked to see the artist under less than ideal conditions. "And, now we're in a tornado."

Well, the tempest thankfully never arrived but Yola did live up to all the advance billing and expectations that were heightened from the high-profile media blitz she conducted during her busy stay in the Ville. The powerhouse singer is winning plenty of praise and on Saturday Yola proved that she is worthy of the accolades.

Yola grew up in a small town in England. She faced many life challenges including poverty and a family that did not support her dreams. Yet, Yola prevailed finding work in the music world which included an opening slot for the late James Brown who told her "soul's a thing, and you got it!"

Yola Puts Nashville on Alert
The McCrary Sisters threw their vocal support behind Yola.

Yola's endorsements continue with an inclusion in NPR Music's Artists To Watch For 2019 and positive reviews from Brooklyn Vegan and Refinery29 for her recent song "Ride Out in The Country". Yola is also on a number of high profile playlists including Spotify's Fresh Folk and Rolling Stone Magazine's monthly playlist.

Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys stated, "the moment I met Yola I was impressed. Her spirit fills the room, just like her voice...she has the ability to sing in a full roar or barely a whisper and that is a true gift. She made everyone in the studio an instant believer." Dan produced her 12-track Walk Though Fire. The CD shines from start to finish - running the range from emotional to energized and from sad to soaring.

Walk Through Fire is a winning mix of fiddle, orchestral strings, shimmering tremolo guitars, soul and steel. It has been described as a career-defining and genre-bending release from one of the most exciting emerging British artists in music today. Yola combines captivating vocals with compelling stories of heartache, life and loss.

At Analog, Yola was backed by a full-band. She came out strong with "Lonely The Night" a nuanced piece with a slide that gave it a slight country flavor combined with a big hook and soul. "Ride Out In The County" was a vibrant, visual piece. On this night Yola had big hair that matched her big voice. Yola was charming paired with a commanding stage presence. Between songs, she shared some insights, which included the fact that she had been in a house fire. She showed us the burn mark before performing the title track which was a co-write with Auerback. Next, the dreamy "Deep Blue Dream" flowed into the riveting and graceful "Rock Me Gently" demonstrating again her dynamic style.

Yola Puts Nashville on Alert
Yola was a singular presence as an impressive singer and guitarist.

Yola's star power was confirmed as a number of guest singers most notably the McCrary Sisters joined her for a number of tracks from the debut album. "It Ain't Easier" with the Sisters was one of many high points on Saturday. Yola mentioned that after losing her Mom the McCrarys sort of adopted her. Yola also alluded to moving to Music City. Should that happen she now has family and strong connections to the vibrant music community here. Yola closed with "Faraway Look". Her encore was a nod to another strong women (Sheryl Crow) with a credible cover of "A Change Would Do You Good".

It may have been a wet night in Nashville but Yola's warmth and bright charm was the perfect remedy to the recent gloomy weather we've been experiencing in Mid-Tenn. Yola sounded just as good - if not better - than on her album. She was a passionate, personable performer who proved her star-power with the support of fellow musicians who recognize her gifts. Upon closing, she promised to be back soon.

Analog at Hutton Hotel is a social club, live music venue located in the West End of Nashville that features well-known and up-and-coming artists such as Yola. The room in the iconic Hutton Hotel is in walking distance of Music Row. The 5,000-square foot, 300-person venue features an elegant space created by Studio 11 Design with a state-of-the-art Bose sound system.

Yola Puts Nashville on Alert
Yola and her band brought a vintage sound to the Analog.

Related Links: For more information on YOLA and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- Yola | Analog at the Hutton


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