YUNA - Album Review/Show Review

Most singer/songwriters releasing albums recently, are all pretty similar. Many of the voices even sound the same, almost contrived. Yuna is an innovative bright light in the middle of the mess. Even her presence on stage is somewhat mystical. Her album is both catchy, and uses varying melodies. Another fault of the singer/songwriter genre is that even within each album there are often too many similarities. Yuna really takes each individual song and gives it a life of it’s own. Not a single song on the album is comparable to another, yet there is an undeniable flow from piece to piece.

The album starts with a song called ‘Lullabies’. This seems to be the most popular track off the debut album. I personally listened to it quite a few times in a row. The open calming sound of Yuna’s voice is something that can’t be taught. It’s hard not to feel a connection to this beautiful piece of music. Much like her presence on stage this song has a very mystical feeling to it. The next two songs ‘Favourite Thing’ and ‘Remember My Name’ pick up the pace. Both songs have a more upbeat feeling to them. Favourite Thing uses a synthesized beat and a little violin to spice it up. Remember My Name has a very playful beat and melody putting a smile on anyones face. The harmonized looped vocals throughout the song show off her creativity. There is no such thing as resting on your laurels for this young woman. She also uses these same vocal techniques in the fourth track titled ‘Decorate’.

‘Decorate’ is a heartbreaking piece about a lingering love. The lyrics are well thought out and emote the right amounts of sadness and hope. Yuna is not the type of artist to hold anything back and this song proves that. It is an extremely personal song making it, in my opinion, one of the best songs on the album. She performed this song as well as ‘Remember My Name’ at the show played at Park West. She performed with appropriate amount of emotion as well. She doesn’t over act her performances and you can tell that each song came from her heart.

The next song on the album called ‘Planes’ brings you back to the singer/songwriter roots. It has a very catchy melody with a well formed guitar part. The lyrics are about finding that balance in your life. The swinging feeling of the vocal melody really helps the listener feel that level of instability, however still happy. The following track ‘Bad Idea’ is the only song I heard that was comparable to another artist. The melody and vocal style is a bit reminiscent of Colbie Callet. The ukelele and interesting modulations within the melody set it apart a bit.

‘Island’ has an intriguing mischievous sound to it. During the chorus she brings it all together and slows down to vocals to mesmerize us once again. Just as her other pieces of music, they lyrics are solid to boot. The eighth track on the album ‘Tourist’ has a beautiful contrast of a minor vocal line, with happy feeling major chords supporting it. The sound of the guitar even sounds a bit like a harp during some sections. Her attention to detail makes this track one of the most interesting on the album.

You can tell in most of Yuna’s tracks that there is a little bit of a reggae influence. The song ‘Fading Flower’ has a reggae sounding beat throughout the versus. During the chorus she completely changes it up keeping the listener interested. The lyrics are extremely empowering as well. Its about someone trying to tear you down and not letting that happen. She is a role model for young and older women alike. The tenth track ‘See You Go’ has one of the more dance-able beats on the album. It brings up the issue of trust in relationships. The constant struggle of proving trust with having trust in your partner, is balanced with the playful guitar part. The song following titled ‘Stay’ goes the opposite direction. The lyrics represent what happens when trust is broken and how to deal with that. The instrumentation brings a soulful element to the piece.

‘Live Your Life’ is another empowering track to round off the end of the album. It is one of the top tracks along with ‘Lullabies’. It really encourages the listener to go for what you want in life and not to be afraid. Lyrically this is my favorite song on the album.  The melody is catchy and the beats are interesting. While the song is great the only gripe is the lyrics don’t quite seem to match the melody. Other than that its a well done piece. ‘Loud Noises’ is the final track on the album. The xylophone sounding beats bring an nice texture to the song. The string inspired melody brings a wonderful flow to the vocal melody. The lyrics are almost like a goodbye to the listener. It leaves you with a warm feeling in your heart and the ambition to go after your dreams.

As a whole, this is one of the best complete debut albums I’ve heard from an up and coming artist all year. Yuna’s voice brings you places you didn’t realize a piece of music could. Her live performance was great as well. I would get tickets to see her as soon as you can. This young woman is not going to be up and coming for very long. She has the potential and talent to make a huge difference in the music industry.

 

Review by: Erin O'Connell erin@chicagomusicmagazine.com