Yola, the powerhouse singer who was nominated for four Grammys — including best new artist — on the strength of her 2018 debut album, has announced plans for a follow-up due this summer, “Stand for Myself,” and released a new music video, “Diamond Studded Shoes,” to preview it.
“Stand for Myself” will be out July 30 and again be produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, whose independent imprint, Easy Eye Sound, is Yola’s label home. Some familiar names, many of them from Nashville, co-wrote songs with the British singer for the new album, including Aaron Lee Tasjan, Natalie Hemby, Paul Overstreet, Ruby Amanfu, Liz Rose, John Bettis, Pat McLaughlin, Joy Oladokun, Hannah Vasanth and Bobby Wood.
Meanwhile, for anyone who has been wondering about the not-yet-announced lineups for the limited-capacity Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival that were recently revealed to be in the planning for July, Yola has provided a bit of a head start: she says she’ll be appearing at both of them.
The album announcement promises her second album will be marked by “a sonic shift from her debut album, with a diverse mix of symphonic soul and classic pop.” But anyone worried that means she’s completely abandoning the Americana vibe that characterized parts of her debut should be reassured by the rootsy groove that “Diamond Studded Shoes” slides into. The colorful, Kwaku Otchere-directed video for the new song ensures it won’t be placed in too narrow a shoebox, in any case.
The album was recorded in fall 2020 in a period when the pandemic delayed the filming of her role as Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley/Colonel Parker biopic.
“It’s a collection of stories of allyship, Black feminine strength through vulnerability, and loving connection from the sexual to the social,” Yola said in a statement — “all celebrating a change in thinking and paradigm shift at their core. 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.”
Of the class-conscious lyrics, Yola said, “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. … 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.”
Besides being nominated for best new artist at the 2019 Grammys, Yola was also up for best American roots song and roots performance for “Faraway Look” and best Americana album for “Walk Through Fire.”
After appearing at the twin Newport festivals in July, Yola will move on to opening for Chris Stapleton on tour in the fall. Headlining shows are expected next year. Full dates for her 2021 shows are below.
July 23-July 25 – Newport Folk
July 30-Aug 1 – Newport Jazz
Aug 6 – Hinterland Music Festival
Aug 7 – DTE Energy Music Theatre. Clarkston, MI – w/ Chris Stapleton
Aug 21 – Globe Life Park. Arlington, TX – w/ Chris Stapleton
Sep 10 – Bristol Rhythm & Roots Festival
Sep 16 – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre. Maryland Height, MO – w/ Chris Stapleton
Sep 17 – Oak Mountain Amphitheatre. Birmingham, AL – w/ Chris Stapleton
Sep 18 – The Wharf Amphitheatre. Orange Beach, AL – w/ Chris Stapleton
Sep 25 – Ruoff Music Center. Noblesville, IN – w/ Chris Stapleton
Sep 26 – Ohana Music Festival
Oct 8 – Madison Square Garden. NYC, NY – w/ Chris Stapleton
Oct 14 – Mizzou Arena. Columbia, MO – w/ Chris Stapleton
Oct 15 – Pinnacle Bank Arena. Lincoln, NE – w/ Chris Stapleton
Oct 16 – Denny Sanford Premier Center. Sioux Falls, SD – w/ Chris Stapleton
Oct 21 – Riverbend Music Center. Cincinnati, OH – w/ Chris Stapleton
Oct 22 & 23 – Bridgestone Arena. Nashville, TN – w/ Chris Stapleton
Oct 28 – United Supermarket Arena. Lubbock, TX – w/ Chris Stapleton
Oct 29 – Isleta Amphitheater. Albuquerque, NM – w/ Chris Stapleton
Oct 30 – AK-Chin Pavilion. Phoenix, AZ – w/ Chris Stapleton
Nov 4 – Frank Erwin Center. Austin, TX – w/ Chris Stapleton
Nov 5 – BOK Center. Tulsa, OK – w/ Chris Stapleton
Nov 6 – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. The Woodlands, TX – w/ Chris Stapleton
Dec 3 – FedEx Forum. Memphis, TN – w/ Chris Stapleton
Dec 4 – Mississippi Coast Coliseum. Biloxi, MS – w/ Chris Stapleton
Dec 5 – Thompson-Boling Arena. Knoxville, TN – w/ Chris Stapleton