What audience say about ‘Encore’:

‘Deep, emotional and brave.’ ~ David W.

‘I got your new album and I love it.’ ~ Ross W.

‘I have started listening to the CD and it has my heart already!’ ~ Sherilyn W.

Encore. Yulia.

Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd.

I had the pleasure of hearing much of the material featured on this disc in a concert shortly before its official launch so I listened to the finished product with eager anticipation. Following her initial stellar breakthrough in 2004 with her debut album Into the West she became disillusioned with the music industry and took a break. She did other things, including starting a family, and now she’s back. Aside from providing interesting biographical background, this all contextualises the CD very neatly because Yulia is a different Yulia to the one we encountered back then – she still sings with depth and sincerity but you feel that there’s much more going on. She has lived that bit more and it comes out in her singing. Her choice of songs, from pop and jazz standards through to her own originals, have a very “around midnight” feel, the live applause adding to the whole cabaret feel, which is something I’m not altogether convinced by but it does create a certain ambience that supports the laid-backness of the disc.

You have to be brave to tackle Piaf’s La Vie en Rose and the jazz classic Autumn Leaves, but putting them up against Lionel Richie’s Hello and the popera classic The Prayer takes some doing. Throw in more folk-oriented Russian songs such as Gari Gari and A na posledok ya skazhu and you have a rich melting pot of styles to absorb. Yulia sings it all with verve and passion and whether singing in her native Russian or bursting into florid operatic Italian (The Prayer), you get the impression that she is singing from the heart. Leonard Cohen’s version of Hallelujah is the benchmark and, while I still have to admit that I prefer Cohen’s, Yulia brings something different to it that is attractive and – like much of the disc – draws you in for another listen.

Yulia is accompanied by a number of top local musicians, the one featuring large being guitarist Hanafi Machirus whose moody, understated playing underpins much of the disc.

We’ve waited a while for this but it’s here now and well worth a listen. I sense there is much more to come from this artist but this announces her welcome return in a very classy way.