Rising star Yola Carter is going from strength to strength. The Bristol-based singer-songwriter won the UK Artist of the Year Award at this year’s AMA UK Awards, performed at the first Ramblin’ Roots Revue festival back in April and has gained critical acclaim for her debut EP Orphan Offering. She’s currently working on her debut full-length album and last night (8th June 2017) performed with her full 10-piece band at the Borderline in London to showcase some of her new tracks.
Yola started her performance with Home, a song with a heavy bass groove which showed off the soul influences in her music. Right from the off her voice completely blew me away – it was sweet yet strong, and she was able to hit the big notes effortlessly. I was also seriously impressed by her range on songs like Fly Away and Born Again, where at times the raw power of her vocal almost went into a scream but she also showed control and the ability to pull it back.
The set covered a wide range of styles from the dreamy On The Wire and It Ain’t Easier to more traditional songs like Orphan Country and the uptempo What You Do, but with elements of gospel on tracks such as Yola’s cover of Delaney & Bonnie’s Country Life. Particular highlights of the show for me were the honky-tonk feel of Gas Light, the slow dark foreboding of Heed My Words and her soulful, duet with Erin Rae on Leave You Dancin’. She also had great chemistry with her band – you genuinely wouldn’t know it was their first time performing together!
One of the things I really enjoyed about Yola’s performance was the storytelling elements. As well as the narratives in her songs, she told the audience how they came about with great humour and warmth. She was also incredibly expressive on stage – you could see in her face and body language that she was completely lost in the music and putting all her emotion into her performance. The crowd really engaged with her due to this and she got an absolutely rapturous response from them.
Yola closed the show with Free To Roam – in her own words, ‘an uptempo song about a sad situation’. It started off with a 60s-esque surf rock intro before turning into a gospel song with a rock groove, perfectly matched by the incredible power of her voice. The song summed up the country-soul fusion of her style as well as showing off her amazing vocal talents and was a perfect finish to an utterly incredible gig.
If you like your country music with a retro 60s influence and a touch of soul then I highly recommend catching Yola when she next performs near you. Her fantastic voice has to be heard to be truly believed and she makes you get completely lost in her music. I can’t wait to hear the album!
Set list: 1. Home 2. On The Wire 3. Orphan Country 4. What You Do 5. It Ain’t Easier 6. Gas Light 7. Heed My Words 8. Born Again 9. Mitch Thompson 10. Country Life (Delaney and Bonnie cover) 11. Leave You Dancin’ 12. Fly Away 13. Free To Roam/The Weight Performance Date: 8th June 2017