Yalla!

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“Sketch (Fr. esquisse; Ger. Skizze; It. schizzo). A composer's written record of compositional activity not itself intended to have the status of a finished, public work. A sketch may record work in progress on a specific composition or may be made independently of any such project; while typically fragmentary or discontinuous, even consisting of no more than a few notes, a sketch may also represent a more fully worked-out musical idea.” (New Grove Dictionary of Music)   For me, Yalla is an album of sketches- of ideas which range from the fully formed to the ones which thematically follow on or pick up from the track before. At times it’s an album with the capacity to be achingly beautiful- opener “All the fallen leaves” certainly falls into this category, it’s is the most complete contribution to this record, lush, warm, woven and homesick, it welcomes us, instantly makes friends with us and makes us want to hang around. An there’s good reason to want to be friends with White, he’s had a rough deal of late, needs a drink and a caring arm around him, and with this collection of songs, it makes you want to be the one that’s there for him. Decamped to Egypt (which he seems to be not too fond of), with huge personal loss (through bereavement and break-up) on his mind, what presumably was intended as escape seems to have made him focus on those themes he finds most comforting – the tried and tested combination of your friends and your hometown. If familiarity does breed contempt, White seems fairly oblivious – this is the musical record of his longings and yearnings, of where he is, and where he would rather be, a place he knows encyclopedically well, almost working-for-the-tourist-boardingly-well, with people he knows best and who know him best. It’s certainly evocative – at its strongest it causes you to question your own situation, what you have, had, and haven’t, where you are, were and will be. At its weakest it has a tendency to go missing, subsumed by getting a little samey, more rough ideas than developed ones. The love wins out though, and with the winsome themes of cherishing the good things, it will make you consider and celebrate everything that makes you happy. Take comfort in friends.