Still something of a new prospect (even for this blog), Nilufer Yanya’s cover of Pixies ‘Hey’ is too good to ignore. Recorded by Bullion for a recent covers album on his label DEEK Records, it’s almost entirely flab-free, with her rich voice eating away at Black Francis’ perverse lyrics.
A Londoner from a big Turkish family, here those words suddenly become a much more vibrant, tactful proposition. Like 2016’s other great new soul star in waiting Jorja Smith, Yanya’s downtrodden style is compelling rather than try-hard, here acting as something of a punchbag for Francis’ proclamations, rather than a perpetrator.
Although melodically it doesn’t stray too far from the original (some new jazzy chords are added in the chorus, a nice touch), where the cover truly comes alive is in its subtlety. The jumpy backline strut of David Lovering and Kim Deal is completely ripped out, replaced with some beautiful, wandering guitar lines holding things together. Yanya was taught the instrument by Dave Okumu from The Invisible, a guy who must surely have picked up a thing or two when playing for Amy Winehouse (herself a master player), and you can see a little of her playing style here too, excitingly.
Yanya is clearly someone worth keeping an eye on. Check out the studio recording of ‘Hey’ above, and a session version she recorded for NTS below (with added synth from Jazzi).