By Hannah Compton
Yola Carter’s voice is a force to be reckoned with, she has so much soul and power in her voice that she is just a joy to listen to. Yola’s range is on a ridiculous scale. She has a voice suited to any genre and can sing just about anything, not just Country. I imagine that she can probably yodel and rap too, maybe even sing a bit of Opera? When a singer’s voice is deeply soulful and passionately powerful, you have to stop and listen. When Yola sings, she carries the melody in her voice already and is the type of singer that can sing a cappella for an entire concert and still blow everyone away.
Orphan Offering is not just a Country EP in my opinion, as I hear elements of Jazz, Soul, Folk, Americana, Bluegrass and Country -Gospel. Yola has a true talent for lyrics, writing from the heart and soul and inviting us into her past and her upbringing, which wasn’t easy. Yola addresses her demons and expresses her feelings in her songs and shows us how she has found solace in the world of music and just how much of a healer music can be. Yola’s story, her words, her music and her attitude, hard work and determination are truly inspirational. She has produced a hard –hitting, truth-telling EP which many people will find relatable.
The EP starts with the song Home – which grabs your attention from the start. It begins quite mellow and down tempo with beautiful lyrics. Half way, the song builds up into a real powerhouse of a tune which would be amazing to hear in a live setting.
What You Do – one of the more Country-sounding tracks off the EP. This song makes me think of Wynonna Judd when Yola sings. They both have such show-stopping voices; wouldn’t it be amazing to hear them perform together? I can dream, right? The melody has a real traditional feel to it with a twist of soul.
Orphan Country – A down-tempo song with a Country/Blues vibe. This song brings a more vulnerable and melancholic sound to Yola’s voice. It has such a soulfully sad style and the emotion in both Yola’s voice and the melody are hauntingly beautiful.
Heed My Words – a very ghostly–traditional Folk sounding track with an element of Country and Americana/Roots music. It is a song that almost possesses you and puts you in a musical trance with the stunning vocals from Yola and its breathtaking melody.
Dead And Gone –probably my favourite song off the EP. It’s another haunting, down-tempo song with a painfully beautiful melody. The lyrics are quite sombre and dark and have a style of Country – Blues and Folk. The emotion in Yola’s voice is so honest and expressive that I really felt every word.
Fly Away – another very Country sounding track. This is such a strong and striking song with really memorable vocals and very strong instrumentation. There is a hint of yodelling too, so I am probably right when I previously said Yola could probably yodel. I can see this song being a killer track live. This is great to end the EP with, as the song gets even more gripping as it goes along. It flows into a very passionate and Country-Gospel ending with insane vocals that are just mind blowing.
As a whole, Orphan Offering is a stunning and emotionally gripping EP with each song being a captivating and hypnotic piece of art. When I listened to the EP, all I could think was, I cannot wait to hear all these songs live one day. I can already picture her performing at my local venue, which is quite an establishment, called The Convent. It’s an old convent converted into a hotel/restaurant/spa and has a music venue in the Chapel which is one of the most intimate and beautiful music venues I have ever been to – and the acoustics are something else. The venue has played host to artists such as Courtney Pine, Jane Sibery, Turin Breaks, Sam Outlaw, Dreadzone and many, many more fantastic performers and I would LOVE to see Yola perform there. Please look into it Yola!
I highly recommend this EP to lovers of music as a whole. I cannot believe that Yola is an independent artist. I am sure this EP will grab the attention of many people in the industry – it really deserves to.
You can download Orphan Offering here :
Orphan Offering – EP by Yola Carter
Listen to Orphan Offering – EP by Yola Carter on @AppleMusic.
About Yola Carter (from her bio on her website)
Yola Carter is a UK born country-soul singer-songwriter. Raised in a small seaside town just outside of Bristol in the South West west of the UK. From a broken home, and in an environment that was tangibly further right than would make a black woman feel comfortable, writing came quickly and performing followed closely as a means of expression and maybe even escape. In many ways music was principally a catharsis of sorts, giving voice to the feeling of being largely overlooked as a black girl in a societal sense but somehow simultaneously directly attacked in her immediate enviroment for merely existing.
From her late teens, Yola Carter (born Yolanda Quartey) quickly earned credibility and respect throughout the industry as one of the U.K’s top Singers and a uniquely gifted Songwriter. As a lover of Soul and Country music her influences include The Staple Singers, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, The Band and Otis Redding. Carter found that her soul voice was the first to get attention and graduated quickly to touring internationally straight out of school with critically acclaimed acts such as Bugz in the Attic on their world tour and later Massive Attack most notably headlining The Glastonbury Festival’s Other Stage Live on the BBC to 60,000 people. Other notable supports and live collaborations include The McCrary Sisters, The Fairfield Four, Willie Watson, Jan Howard, James Brown, Elizabeth Cooke and The legendary Staxx Band with whom she duetted “Knock on Wood” live with Eddie Floyd. Starting early was a blessing as she came from a poor family, but had side effects of often being absorbed into projects. Her talents as a writer however made this side effect work in her favour as time went on.
As a songwriter able to apply her soul sound across genres, she soon found herself being asked to write for people as well as record. She moved to London for short stint as her career as a writer began. She was being asked to deliver her unique gospel style by writing and singing on numerous Pop projects during this period working with acts like Chase and Status, DJ Fresh, Katy Perry, Duke Dumont and wrote the lead single “Hopes and Fears” for Will Young’s Album The Hits as a pop writer. As an artist she collaborated with Nitin Sawhney’s on his concept masterpiece “Last Days of Meaning” that previewed at the Royal Hall and centered on a stunning performance from the legendary John Hurt following the epic metaphorical Dickensian journey of a lonely intransigent man. She was offered a publishing deal with Kobalt Music Publishing as a writer and was later picked up by Noble Savage booking agency as a touring solo artist.
Somehow all at the same time she was asked to join Country-Rock band called Phantom Limb based in her hometown of Bristol UK. Originally intended as a side project for the member who belonged to separate bands as writers and producers, Yola took to plying her soul voice to the project and writing from her country soul heart. The Band originally rocky in style and styling began to morph into a country soul outfit, though never completely shedding its rock roots. As the front woman and top line writer Yola Carter co-wrote two albums with the band the eponymous debut album “Phantom Limb” and the later more countrified effort of “The Pines” produced my Marc Ford of The Black Crowes and supported acts such as Dr John, Solomon Burke and Candy Staton. She recorded two Studio albums with the band in the eight years it lasted and left the band in December 2012. Looking for space to grow creatively Carter took time away from touring to write in a new way to her. She began to write in a largely solitary environment with her vocal and a guitar, a process that was previously collaborative. in the early days, Kit Hawes (a highly talented instrumentalist and member of band Sheelanagig) was an essential sounding board and confidante as she transitioned to writing solo.
Yola Carter has since combined her two skill sets of singer-writer and writer producer to produce her debut solo EP “Orphan Offering” out this Year, and is already working on her debut album “Orphan Country”, alongside contributing backing vocals on the album of the award winning folk singer-songwriter and frontman of Lau, Kris Drever. 2016 will see a return to the touring with dates throughout the Summer for Yola Carter, including supports of St Paul and The Broken Bones, Sam outlaw and Imelda Mae, and a focus on this much anticipated debut album.