First Impressions: Yahzarah Rocks & Reels On Her Kind Of 'Ballad'

Friday, May 14, 2010

Who is this girl? Maybe you know her or don't. After hearing this particular 'ballad', you will be familiarized with who she is and what hand of cards she's playing. And it's a good hand.

A year ago, Yahzarah was quite the mystery, to me at least, even though she isn't a stranger to the music scene as she's been in the game now for almost a decade. So a hop skip and a catch up into the future, with the conscience aware of Blackstar and The Prelude, two of the native's earlier recordings, it's clear that Yahzarah is one to watch, and with producing family, The Foreign Exchange in tow, the sounds of Soul shift gears for those that want something to really gnaw on.

From the album cover alone you want to know who Yahzarah is as she's poised, in killer heels, silently stating that you should know her, and know her you shall as with one listen of The Ballad of Purple St. James, Yahzarah's fourth installment, you get a sense that she isn't a run-of-the-mill R&B/Soul singing sista, as she tends to bend the plastic a bit. And yes, the skip button on your media player is pretty much obsolete with this. How so? Let me count the ways....

 After being swept away with the rousing, "Why Dontcha Call Me No More" a couple of months ago, there were some high hopes for what was to come in the package of The Ballad, Yazarah's fourth release and the first on The Foreign Exchange label. The production and musicianship that is shared between FE's main members, Nicolay and Phonte is thrust into the spotlight, and they give Yahzarah an album that recalls bouncing electrodes of the 80's, but sounds fresh beyond belief.  

From the start, BPSJ kicks off grandly with the rousing warm-up "Strike Up The Band", a introduction that does what it's supposed to grabs you by the collar and shakes you and it means business. A wailing guitar opens up the arrangement savvy "Have A Heart" which feels like a revival of that Isley Brothers rock-n-soul merge.  The cooing lullaby "Come Back As A Flower" is elegant and sensual in one silky go, a definite fresh pick that blossoms as it progresses. The touch of vocoder vocals adds another layer to the already musically condensed track.  

Come Back As A Flower

"Shadow" creeps in carrying a weighty jazz exterior with it, and along with "Flower" is the strongest and most expressive ballads featured here.


The basis of "Starship" leans back into a choppy Prince stylized groove a la "The Beautiful Ones", yet there is a blast-off spectrum of sounds that seem to bounce around in its cannon and come together for a song that rocks on a galactic groove. 


Something that caught my attention with BPSJ was it's lyrical wit, where the words don't get muddled in with the melodies and the songs really do feel more complete, and not like afterthoughts, which sometimes tends to happen when there is more focus on the music and production, not the word construction of the song itself. Yahzarah knows we're listening and makes a more satisfying listening experience.

One listen to The Ballad of Purple St. James, and Yahzarah shouldn't be a stranger anymore, as the musical package she presents plays like sage advice from a good friend, and grooves that you'll slip into instantly. One of 2010's winners for sure. 

Rating: 9.7/10
Release Date: May 4, 2010 

Learn: The Foreign Exchange Official Site
Purchase: The Ballad of Purple St. James 
Follow: Yahzarah Twitter


  1. have her first album. i never knew she was still around...her first album song, WISHING ON A STAR IS JUST PURE CLASSIC!

  2. Yep she's still around :) She's been new to me for awhile, so I'm catching up to what I have missed. And I have missed a lot of great stuff!

  3. Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks so much for sharing my music with your readers.
    It's not often that someone listens as closely as you did.
    I truly appreciate it.


  4. Thanks much YahZarah! And I thank you again for delivering us such fantastic music :) Keep on keeping and we'll keep on listening!


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