I’ve written quite a bit about the he rising Bristol, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Yola over the course of this year. And as you may recall, the JOVM mainstay has led a rather remarkable life — the sort of life that should eventually be made into an inspiring biopic: Yola grew up extremely poor; but she was fascinated by her mother’s record collection, and by the time she was 4, she knew she wanted to be a performer. Unfortunately, she was actually banned from making music, until she left home. She has overcome being in an abusive relationship, stress-induced voice loss and literally being engulfed in flames in house fire, all of which have inspired her Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, which was released earlier this year through Easy Eye Sound.
So far, 2019 has been a breakthrough year for the Bristol-born, London-based singer/songwriter: she made her New York debut earlier this year at Rockwood Music Hall earlier this year. She played an attention-grabbing SXSW set and she has opened for the likes Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates, which will performances at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors and Brandi Carlile’s Girls Just Wanna Weekend in Mexico. She played on Mavis Staples traveling birthday celebration tour. And she made her national TV debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions performing several songs off her full-length debut.
Earlier this month, the JOVM mainstay performed an intimate set at YouTube Space, which was simultaneously filmed. Continuing on the momentum she’s gained thus far, Yola recently released Walk Through Fire’s latest single, “Shady Grove.” Arguably, the prettiest song on the entire album, the slow-burning track is centered around a shimmering string arrangement, twinkling keys, twangy guitars and Yola’s gorgeous and effortlessly soulful vocals, the track sonically brings to mind a seamlessly synthesis between Roy Orbison and Aretha Franklin’s “I Say a Little Prayer,” but while evoking something warm, tender and intimate — like making love on a summer afternoon, windows open and a gentle breeze that makes the curtains billow near you. . . And elated, you lay about with limbs entwined, trading sweet nothings.
Directed by Jessie Craig, the recently released video for “Shady Grove” is an appropriately intimate and behind-the-senes look at Yola’s life. We see the Bristol-born, London-based JOVM mainstay as she gets up in the morning, packs clothes and other essentials before traveling to her next gig. Backstage, we follow Yola’s beauty and fashion routine, preparing for her show — applying making up, putting on the yellow-green dress she picked out to perform and lastly doing her hair, transforming it from the pigtails she wore earlier that morning to the enormous, teased out Afro we’ve become accustomed to seeing her wear. While capturing the profoundly universal routines of the average, modern woman, the video does something that isn’t frequently seen — capturing the routines and preparations of a modern Black woman in a way that’s lovingly familiar to me.
“I love this video, Jessie did such a wonderful job putting it together,” Yola reflected in press notes on the video. “I love the dual narrative which replays the start and end of my day in unison. I wanted an honest and unique visual for the song, which is about a time when I was searching for an oasis away from the draining and toxic people I had in my life at that time”