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Yuna At Make Music Pasadena, Saturday June 7th 2014



Once again I had a dilemma, Yuna was on the main stage, and Surfer Blood on another stage,… Actually I had some time before the Floridian rockers, so I decided to stay around for the Malaysian star… a Muslim pop star? That’s a very rare occasion, right?

She appears on stage like a gracious and thin statuesque figure, quite dignified and she sang with a soulful and velvet voice,… I read that she interestingly describes her music as ‘a cross between Mary Poppins and Coldplay’, whatever this means, but I didn’t get the Coldplay vibe nor the Mary Poppins side, and I don’t think she was making allusion to her full-clothing – she was wearing a turban and even a black turtleneck by this hot afternoon. Rather, she was probably talking about her taste for bright vocals and fusion of pop, R&B and percussion with an exotic undertone.

She has also cited quite an eclectic range of influences, such as Bob Dylan, Feist, The Cardigans, Fiona Apple, Garbage…, and her single ‘Live Your Life’ was produced by happy guy Pharrell Williams – yes, him again! In 2012, Yuna was recognized with a National Youth Icon Award, awarded by the Prime Minister of Malaysia and, at only 27, she has rapidly gone from Malaysian sensation to international pop star.

I didn’t know anything about her, and I found her brand of bouncy R&B quite pleasant, while the percussion surrounding her music made me think about an Asian Lykke Li for a song or two, just listen to ‘Falling’ or ‘Mountains’ from her recent album ‘Nocturnal’. The rest sounded more pure pop, while ‘I want you back’ had this R&B lounge feeling sang by a sultry-voiced chanteuse, going into a more Adele or Jessie Ware territory with a Norah Jones range. As I was leaving the stage to catch the other act, I thought she sounded and looked so mature for someone still in her 20s, talking to the crowd with confidence in a soft spoken voice, ‘I am gonna sing a few songs if it’s all right with you’ she said to open her set, and this sounded like some cool wisdom, as she had the calming presence of a sage speaking to her loving disciples.

Pictures of the show here

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