1st June | Fiddlers

Effortless and at ease stands Yola and her band at Fiddlers. It’s like walking into her own country music mash-up world, the pristine grey and brown suits with cowboy hats mixed amongst the drums, guitar, keyboard and a traditional double bass.

“I’m not normally as murderous as this,” she says with a glamorous animosity to her. Her hair starts to blow in the indoor breeze and I don’t know whether this is looking more like a 1980s music video, or The Fiddlers just has a perfectly air-conditioned stage. Either way, it’s effective. She speaks with a cool ease as she is excited to be in Bristol; perhaps this is because it’s her hometown or just that the crowd is getting excited that she has come back. It becomes more clear though, that ‘murderous’ really sums up the bellowing presence of her singing voice and that ease of purpose she brings into the room as a soul singer.

Yola plays ‘Lonely The Night’, from her latest album, Walk Through Fire. This is a light-up moment, like something out of an alternative reality, with the burning candles and round tables giving it a kind of Vegas feel.  There are a few breathless pauses in the room and most people compliment how ‘awesome’ her voice is. OK. Enough with the praising right? Maybe.

We go into a few pastures of memory Fiddlers. We share a beautiful moment in ‘Ride Out In The Country’ – with the smooth sassy, ‘screw you, love, I’m on my own here’ lyrics. There’s the sentimental homage to her 20s, ‘Shady Grove.’ ‘Shady Grove’ carelessly floats you down a boat ride of fuzzy memories with a quirky country sound. Her warmth is enhanced by what feels like a constant depiction of your 9-5 life. It isn’t a working-class thing; it’s pretty much a life thing – we all should be able to relate to her ‘Love All Night (Work All Day)’.

Yola recognises a certain level of collaboration on her new album involved with Dan Auerbach from his label Easy Eye Sound and a number of artists who were invited to input and have another angle to it. Tonight, the focus is all Yola though.

And once again, we come gather around for ‘Walk Through Fire’. Yola explains this song on her album was based on her actually catching on fire. “But I gotta walk through the fire, I gotta deal with desire,” she sings. It feels like a warm Christmas at the beginning of June. Best of both worlds. Yee-fucking-ha!

See the video for ‘Love All Night (Work All Day’ here: