Tuesday, 17 March 2015

YUNA - Malaysian singer

Yuna is a Malaysian singer songwriter who can also play guitar and ukulele.  Born Yunalis Mat Zara'ai in Kedak to a current legal advisor of Pahang father and a high school teacher mother, this lady is a major Asian rising star.

Through word of mouth and an amazing online fan base, Yuna's self-titled debut Malaysian album and a handful of single releases, she achieved a Grammy equivalent award in her homeland and several high profile awards.  Indie-Pop management company soon had her in their sights and persuaded her to release a US sampler E.P. entitled "Decorate" in 2011 on the Fader label.  The single "Live Your Life" and her debut US album soon got her noticed by the American public, appearing on shows such as Last Call with Carson Daly, Conan and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  After being just a MySpace artist and playing small Acoustic sets in Malaysia in 2006 to an International star and being featured in Rolling Stone and other music media.  This lady has a lot to offer with her brand of Indie-Pop, Folk, Acoustic, Alternative R n' B style.


The first track I heard from Yuna was actually a cover of Nirvana's "Come As You Are" on Spotify.  It was a very light easy listening track with this stunning voice, similar to Norah Jones singing over a light Acoustic backdrop.  As I wasn't a fan of Nirvana, this was appreciating the song in a completely different more melodic way, a little like Tori Amos' version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit".  It got me interested and I wanted to seek out more from this interesting lady.

Yuna's first US E.P. in 2011 proved as a sampler for the forthcoming debut album "Yuna".  "Decorate" contained a preview version of the title song of 1 and a half minutes, but the stand out track in my opinion is "Fears and Frustrations".  It consists of eerie backdrop music with a similar feel to Morcheeba, and Yuna's vocals range from that band's lead singer Skye to a soft Debbie Harry.  "Deeper Conversation" and Coffee" are both laid back tracks in the style of Norah Jones, but the first has a faint Country Folk feel and was a hit single.  I can understand why this lady has been labelled a number of genres. 


The debut release of the album "Yuna" outside of Malaysia was a selection of 13 songs which reached 19 on the US Heatseekers list, which highlights sales of upcoming and rising music acts.  Released on the Fader label it also contained the first single "Live Your Life", which was a more upbeat number with what sounds like an Electro drumbeat, the vocals were more like a cross between Adele and Nina Nesbitt.  The second single from the album, "Lullabies" is a beautiful haunting ballad which I am surprised it hasn't reached over to the UK yet, as I am sure it would be a hit.  Yuna says she listened to a lot of music growing up such as The Cardigans, and sometime you can hear a little Nina Persson especially in the quicker numbers.

Another favourite of mine include the lovely "Planes" which reminds me a little of The Corrs, just enough of a jaunty Pop feel to make you feel happy.   The album sure shows Yuna's versatility and various influences.  "Bad Idea" for instance is like an old fashioned musical number form a very old film, while "Loud Noises" is like another of my favourite artists, Avril Lavigne.  A really unique album from a great talent.




Following the debut album came another E.P. in 2013 called "Sixth Street".  It contained 5 songs including the quirky, gentle foot tapper "I Wanna Go" and Alanis Morissette-esque "Musician".  "Right Now" is funky 70s soul, proving that Yuna can turn her hand to any style when needed.

The most recent album, released in 2014 is "Nocturnal".  which contains the singles "Comeback", "Falling" and "Rescue".  "Comeback" has to be inspired by Lily Allen and the light really poppy, flowery music complete with handclaps is a real feel good song.  "Falling" is really unusual, at one moment I think it's Motown, then 80s Electronica, then something similar to Sade, a really likeable song all the same.   "Rescue" is upbeat, like The Cardigans Euro-Pop, makes your feet get tapping!  "Colors" is also a very beautiful song, uplifting and makes you feel nice inside.




Check out some of these tracks to hear the wonderful voice of Yuna -

"Decorate (preview)", "Deeper Conversation", "Someone Out Of Town", "Coffee", "Fears and Frustrations".
(From "Decorate" E.P.).
"Lullabies", "Planes", "Live Your Life", "Bad Idea", "Loud Noises".
(From "Yuna").
"I Wanna Go", "Right Again", "Let Love Come Through", "Young", "Musician".
(From "Sixth Street" E.P.).
"Comeback", "Falling", "Rescue", "Colors", "Lights And Camera".
(From "Nocturnal").






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