Yola announced her anthemic new album Stand For Myself, will be released via Easy Eye Sound on July 30, 2021. Produced by Dan Auerbach, the album is a sonic shift from her debut album, with a diverse mix of symphonic soul and classic pop, tracing a musical thread to Yola’s most eclectic musical inspirations.
New single “Diamond Studded Shoes” follows the success of Yola’s 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.
“Diamond Studded Shoes” debuted today with a surreal new video, directed by Kwaku Otchere. Here we see Yola transported into a world where the fantastical meets the mundane, and her electric personality bursts from frame to frame.
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.”
Yola added, “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.”
Stand For Myself finds Yola at her most melodically and lyrically free. It is an album which will connect personally with anyone who has experienced being made to feel “other,” and urges us to challenge the biases that fuel bigotry, inequality and tokenism, which have deeply impacted her personal life and professional career.
“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. For more information and tickets please visit: www.iamyola.com
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. Yola used this unexpected gift of time and space to become grounded both physically and mentally, as she began to craft the songs that would eventually become Stand For Myself.
Some songs 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.
Stand For Myself draws inspiration from seminal albums Yola discovered via her Mother’s 70s record collection, as well as the eclectic mix tapes she created, listening to British radio, featuring everything from 90s neo soul to R&B and britpop. All which soundtracked her childhood and teenage years in Bristol, England. From stress induced voice loss to living on London’s streets, Yola has navigated it all to launch her genre-fluid solo career.
Yola’s aspiration is that the album will encourage empathy and self actualisation. It is an album about being back to where she started, to the real Yola. 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.”