What makes the rise of the United Kingdom neo-soul artist Yellow Days so fascinating is that it was the result of organic growth and incredible songwriting. He’s become one of the most unique and recognizable voices in music today despite only having three projects under his belt.
On his latest album “A Day In A Yellow Beat,” he explores themes of masculinity and love, all while keeping a light and emotional tone. This album marks the first time he introduces collaborations with other musicians, and they help him expand his sound and make this record more concise and put-together.
His 2016 long-playing record "Harmless Melodies" introduced a signature sound to his style of music. “Gap In The Clouds” features a heavy emphasis on his voice while the minimal but effective production builds a beautiful canvas around him. The swirling synth tones and muted bassline helps his lyrics be front and center. Songs like these helped him develop a large fanbase in a short amount of time and helped introduce him to the world.
“A Day in a Yellow Beat” introduces similar song topics but with better production and more experimental ideas. In “The Curse,” live drums and a brassy synthesizer carry the song, and a guitar solo from Mac Demarco showcases how far Yellow Days has come musically.
Songs like this feel more professional and focused without losing its authenticity and sound. Often, music can become soulless with glossy production, because it tends to take away from the artist’s voice. The song’s laid-back feel is a testament to his songwriting and the impact of collaboration.
On the first track “Intro,” the tone is set immediately as a sample from an interview with Ray Charles plays, while a glockenspiel and synthesizer play in an almost freeform manner. As Charles speaks on highlighting originality in his music, it is evidently clear that Yellow Days follows this same philosophy and mindset with his creative process.
Songs like “Come Groove (Interlude)” introduce influences of jazz and soul with its freeform composition and instrumental solos. A mixture of these and more traditional rhythm-and-blues jams add variety to the album and shows the beauty of his deep cuts.
Even though this album is 23 tracks long, each song fits well within the context of the album. This contrasts with the common strategy of artists padding their albums with lots of songs to make their streaming numbers higher.
While most indie-soul artists focus on maintaining a DIY aesthetic and in-house production, Yellow Days separates himself from the pack by making sure his songs sound professional and are mixed well.
The font and style for his cover art have become instantly recognizable among his fans, and this sense of similarity showcases that he knows exactly what he wants his music to look and sound like.
In an era where there is an overflow of similar-sounding musicians, Yellow Days’ greatest strength is using his musical influences to his advantage. You can hear the influence of D’Angelo’s "Voodoo" in the number of live drums on this project. The impact of Kaytranada and his production style is evident in “You” with its four-on-the-floor groove and reverbed vocals.
Yellow Days is by far one of the most unique and fresh faces in the music industry. “A Day in a Yellow Beat” keeps his voice and signature sound alive while adding more complex topics and focused song ideas. He wears his influences on his sleeve, but they do not overpower his originality.
Collaborations with Demarco and professional engineers make this album more lush and polished and is an exciting direction for Yellow Days. It's his best album to date and will definitely expand his fanbase.