Yola has announced what’s described as her “anthemic” new album ‘Stand For Myself’, which will be released via Easy Eye Sound in the UK on July 30, 2021 – and boy is she back. Just look at that cover! Produced by Dan Auerbach, the album marks a sonic shift from her debut, with “a diverse mix of symphonic soul and classic pop, tracing a musical thread to Yola’s most eclectic musical inspirations.” The record follows on from the success of that breakout debut album ‘Walk Through Fire’ which landed her four GRAMMY nominations including Best New Artist, critical acclaim and fans from Elton John to Mavis Staples.
The first single to be taken from it, ‘Diamond Studded Shoes’, debuts today with a surreal new video, directed by Kwaku Otchere, in which Yola is transported into a world where the fantastical meets the mundane – you can watch it below. Yola stated: “This song explores the false divides created to distract us from those few who are in charge of the majority of the world’s wealth and use the ‘divide and conquer’ tactic to keep it. This song calls on us to unite and turn our focus to those with a stranglehold on humanity. The video is in part inspired by the Truman show and is about being trapped in a false construct. It is supposedly perfect, but you’re trapped in a life that wasn’t meant for you. I wanted to convey the feeling that everything you know to be true is not quite working the way it’s supposed to. The island at the end is a paradigm of mental conditioning, we are all trapped on an island of our own thinking, until we change it.”
Of the new album, Yola said: “It’s a collection of stories of allyship, black feminine strength through vulnerability, and loving connection from the sexual to the social. All celebrating a change in thinking and paradigm shift at their core.” Yola said, adding, “It is an album not blindly positive and it does not simply plead for everyone to come together. It instead explores ways that we need to stand for ourselves throughout our lives, what limits our connection as humans and declares that real change will come when we challenge our thinking and acknowledge our true complexity.” Yola believes that only then can we be truly alive and that freedom is more than merely surviving.”
Yola also announced today that she will be one of few artists to perform at both Newport Folk and Newport Jazz in the same year, when she joins the lineup of both events this summer. She will also be performing dates with Chris Stapleton on his rescheduled tour in 2021 and will headline The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in 2022. Last year, the pandemic derailed Yola’s plans to tour stadiums (with Chris Stapleton and The Black Keys) as well as numerous festival plays. In addition, her plans were sidelined to fly to Australia to film a role as Sister Rosetta Tharpe in the new Baz Luhrmann Elvis biopic.
Accordingly, some songs on the new record began in the twilight hours of Yola’s pandemic isolation, reflecting on her personal and our collective moments of longing and awakening. Other songs germinated years ago and were inspired by personal moments, including ‘Break The Bough’, which Yola started to write following her mother’s funeral. Tracks were also co-written with Ruby Amanfu, John Bettis, Pat McLaughlin, Natalie Hemby, Joy Oladokun, Paul Overstreet, Liz Rose, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Hannah Vasanth and Bobby Wood. Recorded during the fall of 2020 with a rhythm section that includes bassist Nick Movshon, noted for his work with Amy Winehouse and Bruno Mars, alongside drummer and rising solo artist, Aaron Frazer.
Yola’s aspiration is that the album will encourage “empathy and self-actualisation”. Yola added, “I kind of got talked out of being me, and now I’m here. This is who I’ve always been in music and in life. There was a little hiatus where I got brainwashed out of my own majesty, but a bitch is back.”
1. Barely Alive
2. Dancing Away In Tears
3. Diamond Studded Shoes
4. Be My Friend
5. Great Divide
7. If I Had To Do It All Again
8. Now You’re Here
9. Whatever You Want
10. Break The Bough
11. Like A Photograph
12. Stand For Myself