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Video Concert Review: Yola on Tiny Desk (Home)

Yola by Joseph Ross

NPR Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

Most music nerds have heard of and watched NPR’s Tiny Desk series. Once filmed before the NPR staff, the Tiny Desk performances strip artists of all the fanfare and fancy, bringing them to play stripped-down sets that offer a rare and intimate glimpse into the acoustic side of top hits. While the NPR offices may be emptied, and people consume music from home rather than huddled around stages, the Tiny Desk fervour lives on with Tiny Desk Home Concerts. British born powerhouse Yola takes to the Tiny Desk Home Concert, delivering a bewilderingly brilliant performance that will transport you to a backyard fanfare, a much-needed escape from the day to day. Yola has performed with her own group, Phantom Limb, and with Massive Attack and the Chemical Brothers.

Yola, joined by guitarist Jordan Tice of Hawktail, launches her Tiny Desk with the whimsical, story laden ‘Faraway Look.’ Yola’s expansive vocals are on full display with ‘Faraway Look,’ her soft melodies intermixing with never-ending notes draw you in as you are simultaneously comforted by and in awe of her voice. ‘Faraway Look’ also allows you to catch a glimpse at the lyrical mastery of Yola, both a love song and a song of yearning, the tune is emotionally stirring and breath-taking, an incredible start to the Tiny Desk concert.

After a short round of thanks Yola launches into ‘Dead and Gone.’ A lament that stems from personal reflection, ‘Dead and Gone’ is heart wrenchingly beautiful. Yola’s voice flutters, breathy yet powerful and poignant. The extended instrumental break during the bridge bringing a hauntingly peaceful moment as the artists play in their backyard garden. ‘Dead and Gone’ captures a moment of time, prompting you to merely sit and listen without distraction.

‘Love is Light’ and ‘It Ain’t Easier’ round out the Tiny Desk concert. ‘Love is Light’ is a bright, cheery love song that swells with good vibes. With a classic swing, ‘Love is Light’ brings a new energy to the Tiny Desk concert, a little moment of sweet escapism. ‘It Ain’t Easier’ concludes the concert, Yola’s impossibly perfect vocals dancing alongside the rhythmic guitars crafting an almost meditative experience.

As a lover of Tiny Desks many of us miss the energy of the small crowd, and yet their is something undeniably special about the intimacy of the Tiny Desk Home concerts. Yola’s Tiny Desk was nothing short of spectacular, a warm and welcoming show that temporarily allowed one to escape into a musical masterpiece. Yola promises potential new songs, teasing that she has written enough while in quarantine for a new album. While we won’t hold our breathe for a quarantine album, the promise of new songs is exciting. For now, we will merely bask in Yola’s Tiny Desk Home concert, a perfect twenty minutes of sheer musical genius cloaked in phantasmic vocals and enveloping stories.

Watch Yola’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

Photo by Josheph Ross.