Late last year, I wrote about Yola an up-and-coming London-born and-based singer/songwriter, who has led a rather remarkable life; the sort of life that should be made into an inspiring biopic: Yola grew up extremely poor, and as a child she was actually banned from making music. She has also overcome being in an abusive relationship, stress-induced voice loss and literally being engulfed in flames in a house fire, which inspired her Dan Auerbach-proudced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, slated for a February 22, 2019 release through Easy Eye Sound.
The up-and-coming British singer/songwriter has received praise from a number of media outlets both nationally and internationally, including NPR, Rolling Stone, Wall Street Journal, The Tennessean, Refinery 29, Billboard, American Songwriter, BrooklynVegan, Nashville Scene, Paste and Stereogum. But perhaps much more interesting she has opened for James Brown and joined renowned trip hop act Massive Attack before traveling to Nashville to work with Auerbach and a backing band that features musicians, who have worked with Elvis and Aretha Franklin.
Now, as you may recall, album single “Ride Out in the Country” was a Muscle Shoals-like take on honky tonk country that to my ears recalled Sandra Rhodes’ under-appreciated Where’s Your Love Been. Centered around twangy guitar chords, lap steel guitar, some Rhodes electric organ, a soaring hook and Yola’s easy-going and soulful vocals, the song is an achingly sad breakup song, written from the perspective of someone reeling from a devastating breakup, complete with the recognition that your former lover has moved on and that maybe you should be doing so too — even if it’s profoundly difficult for you. Walk Through Fire’s latest single is the slow-burning, swooning, Phil Spector Wall of Sound, meets classic Motown Records-like “Faraway Look.” Centered around an old-school arrangement and a soaring hook, the song is roomy enough for Yola’s incredible vocal range to shine.
Certainly, what the first two singles reveal is that the British singer/songwriter is a rare vocalist, a vocalist, who can wail the blues and belt like a true pop balladeer — sometimes within the same song. And in this case, “Faraway Look” is about that precise yet profound and deeply awkward moment when it’s so obvious that you’ve fallen in love with someone that everyone else notices, including your object of affection. And in that peculiar moment, it’s now or never.
Directed, by Tim Duggan, the recently released video follows several very lonely people. who seem to be longing for much more in their lives — and yet, they’re not quite sure how to go about it; but part of their longing is stirred by watching Yola perform the song on a variety of devices. Interestingly, the video is shot with grainy Super 8 Film, which gives the video an appropriate old-timey feel.