YahZarah – The Ballad Of Purple Saint James | Album Review

YahZarah is a name we have become familiar with in the last several years through various Little Brother / Justus League songs and albums and her previous releases Hear Me (2001) and Blackstar (2002). Still fresh in the minds and ears of many with last year’s Foreign Exchange group release Leave it all Behind, the Washington, D.C. native definitely shined on the project’s standouts “If She Breaks Your Heart” and “If This Is Love.”

As news of her new LP became more prevalent, it was clear that her latest project would definitely be one to savor. Now under the Foreign Exchange music banner, YahZarah, born Dana Williams releases her third album The Ballad Of Purple Saint James.

The album starts off with “Strike Up The Band”, a jazzy intro that gives off the feel of a sound check at a live show, a warm up to the wonderfully crafted album to follow. If “Strike Up The Band” is a sound check then “Why Doncha Call Me No More” is the beginning of the show, as the tempo is taken up with a faster drum pattern and synthesizer that seems to channel Tears For Fears‘ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.”

“Cry Over You” sees Yahzarah singing about not crying over her current relationship whilst Phonte steps behind the mic as “rappin’ te’ “ and spits a quick 16 perfectly in sync with the song over yet again what stands out as ’80s influenced track.

Overall the album has a strong ’80s/’90s influence that blends well with YahZarahs’ voice on every track. “Come Back As A Flower” is definitely a song that lives up the albums namesake being a perfect ballad. YahZarah makes relationship issues never sound as easy going as she sings about break ups, lies and love. “Dedicated” feels very much like an nod to En Vogue as she sings accapella, assisted by back-up singers, with a heartfelt love letter in the form of butter smooth harmony.

The album ends with what sums up the experience “Love Come See The Day,” very laid back and subtle with the guitar rift, high hats and a welcomed trumpet solo which has YahZarah singing about the warmth of love. This is an album that took time to create, finishing The Ballad of Purple Saint James feels like a completed journey that you want to start again and hopefully discover something new the next time.

–DeVon Thompson

The Ballad Of Purple Saint James is out now via Foreign Exchange Music.

Tracklisting:

01. Strike Up The Band
02. Why Dontcha Call Me No More
03. Cry Over You feat. Phonte
04. All My Days feat. Darien Brockington
05. Come Back As A Flower
06. Dedicated To You
07. The Lie
08. Last To Leave
09. Have A Heart
10. Change Your Mind
11. Starship
12. Shadow
13. Love, Come Save The Day