Ya Yah Townsend – “Sugar High” – Single Review
I’d say it’s been a pretty good night…I’ve actually spent about 3-4 hours straight just listening to only two songs on repeat. One of them belonged to singer/solo-artist Ya Yah Townsend – the sweetened flow & groove of her brand-new single “Sugar High” gave me no reasons to turn it off – only turn it up! And so here…in the late-night hours of the music studio I sat and listened to her new song on repeat.
“Sugar High” starts out smoothly…the subtle way the song evolves at the start has a great mix of classic R&B sounds meeting a jazzy rhythm and quickly grabs the attention even more firmly when Ya Yah Townsend begins to sing. With the sweet chorus-hooks beginning the vocals, the flow comes out sounding bold, bright and really gorgeous in tone. I like this approach to the song’s opening with the pairing of the strongest parts of the vocals in with a more subdued start to the music…you know you’ve got something to look forward to when it comes around again with the surrounding elements in the music having built-up even more.
Though…to be fair…I should clarify ‘strongest parts’ – because what I’m really saying is the mix…perhaps the writing as well there…but as far as ‘strongest parts’ are concerned, make no mistake – Ya Yah Townsend ends up putting in quite the performance by the end of this tune. You can hear the confidence grow just after a minute into the song as she gets into her comfort-zone; between the different layers and tones she puts into “Sugar High” – she ends up going from good to great throughout the course of the song. I thought the ending was truly inspired…I like the rest too, “Sugar High” is a great mix of sweet & sexy…but right at the end of the song where Ya Yah Townsend begins to let loose and get some random vocalizations happening in the moment, she sounds spectacular.
I think the performance is a commendable one…she starts this low-key and chilled out throughout the verse and really lifts the song up by the end triumphantly through her stunning vocals. The hooks are strong…each part verse & chorus and I liked that this song really sticks to the classic sound of true R&B. There’s real class in the way this song is approached through the performance, through the writing and through the mix. Incidentally, for those out there that dig on tie-ins & liner-notes, that added jazziness you no doubt notice making the mix sparkle comes from none other than Jacob H. Carruthers III’s production, who you might remember from our review on his album The Jazz In My Soul a couple years back. He also produced Townsend’s breakout track “Chocolate Covered Kisses,” the single released prior to this new one we’ve got in review today. He’s done well here…no issues with the mix and Ya Yah sounds beautiful throughout the entire song just the way she should on a song like “Sugar High.” Let’s face it though…you can also tell that the natural instincts, sweet sound & tone of Townsend had to at least let him take it a bit easy…everything sounds very natural & unaltered…and at the end of the day I think they can both take some of the credit for that. Smart to leave Ya Yah’s sound intact as much as it is here…I think that sincerity and genuinely soulful approach she has to the music & beat she’s working with here shines brightly through as a result.
There’s real evolution to what you hear on “Sugar High” and I really appreciated the way this song built up towards the fireworks from Townsend’s vocals by the end of the tune. She’s got a great sound to her voice when she really lets it out there. If anything, I’d encourage her to go after those moments even more than she’s done here on this tune in the future; she’s got the gift of really great instincts on ‘how’ to sing this tune and the tightness between the theme in the lyrics, sound of the music and energy of the overall song really demonstrates a focused songwriter’s touch. Solid & smooth tune!
Join the thousands of bands & artists reviewed at sleepingbagstudios by clicking here!