After fronting Phantom Limb for several years, Bristol, U.K. singer-songwriter Yola decided to go solo. Her music draws on country, soul, gospel and Americana, resulting in a warm, rootsy sound. After releasing her debut EP Orphan Offering in 2016, she’s finally set to release her debut full-length Walk Through Fire, out on Feb. 22 via Easy Eye Sound. The album was produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and was recorded in his Nashville studio. Paste covered her recent single, “Faraway Look,” and highlighted her staggering vocal talent. The album features a traditional Americana setup of steel guitars and fiddle, but it’s adorned with orchestral strings, chorus vocals and Yola’s larger-than-life pipes—culminating in a heavy-hearted, cavernous listen for that perfect summer evening.
Yola was at home in Bristol in December of 2015 when she realized her kitchen was beginning to fill up with flames. “I was walking around burning like a human torch, and my first instinct was, ‘Ahhh!’” says the British singer-songwriter, who had accidentally set a new kitchen appliance on fire. “But instinct two was laughter, because I was thinking, ‘What’s worse than this?’ And the thing that was worse was the life I had just managed to get myself out of.”
That idea–of escaping one’s past life by any means necessary–ended up serving as the central premise for the the title track of Walk Through Fire, the singer’s debut album for Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye label. Recorded in Nashville with a team of the city’s best session musicians, the record chronicles the personal and artistic rebirth that Yola has undergone over the past few years. Many of the songs, like “Shady Grove” and “Ride Out In The Country,” are belated breakup songs, addressed not only to a ex-lover but to a previous self.