Yola‘s signature mix of Nashville twang and classic R&B smolder has turned the Bristol, England, singer into one of the most acclaimed vocalists of our time. She brought all of that and more to her NPR Tiny Desk concert, filling the public radio show’s cramped office studio with an arena’s-worth of soul for a three-song set of tunes from her acclaimed Dan Auerbach-produced produced 2019 album Walk Through Fire.
Opening with the slow burn “Faraway Look,” Yola captivated as her voice soared over the subtle, piano-led arrangement, climbing from barely a whisper to a throaty, bookshelf-rattling growl.
She then kicked it up a notch for the mid-tempo country soul rocker “I Don’t Wanna Lie,” riding the groove, snapping her fingers and grooving in place as she belted, “I don’t wanna lie/ I don’t wanna lie/ I don’t wanna tear your apart,” the slight smile on her face belaying a sentiment more complex than the chorus.
Strapping on an acoustic guitar for the final track, the self-penned “It Ain’t Easier,” she brought things back down again for a slow, sensual song about how making a true love is always harder than it seems.
The miniscule concert comes just a week before the singer is up for four Grammy Awards (best Americana album, best Americana roots song, best American root performance), including best new artist, where she’ll be up against Black Pumas, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Maggie Rogers, Rosalía and Tank and the Bangas at the 62nd annual awards show on Jan. 26.
Watch Yola’s Tiny Desk concert below.