At the nucleus of any self-respecting artist is a DIY ethos, and for many, in the manner of which they started their careers alone, they are wont to come full circle. Understandably, David Ivar – the sole creative force behind Black Yaya – is feeling that pinch.
With Ivar’s band, Herman Dune, firmly planting their roots in affable pop that successfully straddles that mean fence between radio-friendly and, simply, good, Ivar had the ever-increasing urge to pursue his own path and remind himself exactly why he fell in love with making music in the first place. Having birthed eleven albums in the sixteen years of Herman Dune in 1999, their career itself is a testament to finding a happy niche and riding its wave by writing songs that stand the test of time. However, it is a long time spent on one vision, and with Black Yaya, Ivar is free to delve into his more experimental eccentricities.
Free from any semblance of pressure and with his childhood heroes (Chuck Berry, John Lennon, Bob Dylan) lodged firmly in the back of his mind, Ivar holed up in an oceanside apartment, CA, and impressively laid down all drums, bass, guitars, pianos, organs, harps, vocals – and whatever else – in solitude. From the buzzing, squealing, sing-a-long ode novelty of memorable album opener ‘Flying A Rocket’ to the funk romance of ‘Glad Tidings’ and the pensive ‘Save Them Little Children’ there is something for everyone here. Those longing for a song of classic Herman Dune ilk will spot remnants in the charmingly deployed ‘Watchmen’ and the psychedelic pop of ‘Under Your Skin’ (of which Ivar recruited his partner Mayon to contribute backing vocals), whilst ‘Through The Deep Night’ offers a surprisingly mellow moment.
At its core, Black Yaya is a fun album from a musician that feels galvanised in his creative freedom; note: Lyrics akin to ‘If some day you think you’ll find me waiting like a tomato on the market’ are a frequent occurrence. Before you feel fit to potentially write this album off on the back of that though, be sure to take stock of Black Yaya’s recent single, ‘Vigilante’; with its urgent tempo, harmonicas and dramatic, echoing vocal, it is washed with much of the symbolically retrospective Americana possessed by some of Ivar’s notable idols, which – in the ilk of a teen sat in his bedroom with his guitar and his four-track – is all any musician really wants to hear.