One positive thing to arise out of two years of myriad uncertainties was the music of Yova, the duo of vocalist Jova Radevska and multi-instrumentalist / producer Mark Vernon. The singles they delivered since arriving in November 2019 with ‘Moondog’ have highlighted a pairing that thrives on a certain mutability, showcasing a writing style and sound that isn’t so much restless as fully unprepared to settle in one place.
At the heart of these songs is Radevska. Hers is a voice of quiet and persistent gravity, outwardly carrying an innocence and lightness but able to move from subtle anguish to delicate euphoria. Whether matched to strings (‘Togetherness’) or electronics-inflected funk (‘You’re The Mirror’) or emphatic low-slung blues rock (‘Would I Change It? (If I Could)’ Radevska writes emotional, gently soulful pop music full of worldly observation, relationship trauma and oblique, diaristic gestures. In Vernon she has found a well-connected collaborator with an ability to augment her words with rich sonic layers, drawing in collaborators as diverse as Daniel O’Sullivan (Grumbling Fur), BJ Cole, David Rhodes (Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush) and PJ Harvey multi-instrumentalist Rob Ellis to frame these songs.
Nine Lives, then, brings together all the disparate strands of Yova’s music into one whole. The effect is not an album that feels incoherent as Radevska and Vernon view the structure of each song through its own distinct lens. Instead, what emerges is a solid, refreshingly diverse collection of songs focussed on Radevska’s appealing storytelling. ‘Make It Better’ is one of the highlights of the new songs, a plaintive, sawing violin allowing Radevska’s insistent vocal to fluctuate sweetly between desperation and hope.
Closing track ‘Haunted’ perhaps sums up the character of Nine Lives. The songs carries a beatific optimism, Radevska’s voice framed by evocative strings and delicate piano as it soars gracefully skyward – its ultimate destination wherever Radevska and Vernon feel compelled to journey to next.
Nine Lives by Yova was released November 12 2021 by Quartertone Recordings.
Words: Mat Smith
(c) 2021 Further.