Music review: Yola, St Luke’s, Glasgow

Authentic-feeling bluesy-Americana was on offer from singer/songwriter Yola.
Authentic-feeling bluesy-Americana was on offer from singer/songwriter Yola.
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BRISTOL-BASED Americana singer Yola Carter doesn’t seem like one to care much for formalities at the best of times, let alone when she’s in Glasgow, where’s she’s long been a familiar face at the Celtic Connections festival. “I made the mistake of enjoying myself,” she joked in a slightly hoarse voice after a couple of songs, “on tour I call it the fun tax.”

Yola, St Luke’s, Glasgow ****

The former Phantom Limb singer, who has performed backing vocals for artists as diverse as Massive Attack and Iggy Azalea, has hit a rich seam as a mononymous solo artist since teaming up with Dan Auerbach of American custodians of all things rootsy and retro The Black Keys. A set leaning heavily on her latest, Auerbach co-written and produced album Walk Through Fire – fleshed out by a skillful five-piece band on instruments including pedal steel and upright bass – summoned authentic-feeling incantations of Dusty Springfield-esque hazy country and sunny southern soul.

It doesn’t get much more authentic than a co-write credit from former Elvis and Roy Orbison collaborator Bobby Wood, on the lustrously laid-back Shady Grove, does it? Scottish fiddler Laura McGhee added some extra flair to the bluesy title track from Carter’s latest album – which for all its symbolism about walking through the flames of love, turned out to be literally about escaping a house fire (she showed the scars to prove it).

Back with a “quick gin” in hand for the encore, Carter deftly segued a cover of 
Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi into Joe Cocker’s The Letter, before soaring off joyfully with an up tempo Fly Away.

MALCOLM JACK