Let’s Get To What’s Real
“This album is something that I needed to do, for me,” Elliott Yamin says of the aptly-titled Let’s Get to What’s Real, his third album and his first Purpose Music Group/eOne release. “It feels right, and it feels like who I am as an artist. I wanted to make something raw and soulful and organic, so I went wherever the music moved me.”
Yamin has already earned a prestigious reputation as both a world-class recording artist and a deeply compelling live performer, having built an impressive body of work as well as an intensely loyal international fan base. On Let’s Get to What’s Real, the multi-talented artist raises the musical and personal stakes, tapping into the emotional honesty and sonic intimacy of classic soul to create the most inspired and distinctive music he’s ever made. The resulting album is the purest expression to date of the musical talent and personal charisma that were first introduced to the public during Yamin’s stint as one of the most acclaimed performers to ever compete on TV’s American Idol.
“I wanted to get back to making real music with real musicians and real instruments,” Yamin says of the new disc. “There were some hints of that on my first album, but my second album was pretty much machine-driven. I like that kind of music too, but this time I wanted to create music about real issues and make a record which reflects this.”
Yamin’s fresh new creative leap is apparent on such impassioned new tunes as the intimate, insistent “Self Control,” the rousingly upbeat “Gather ‘Round,” the poignantly autobiographical “Virginia” and the commanding title track, whose lyrical sentiments underline the sense of personal commitment that Yamin brought to the project. Those tracks find the artist decisively reinventing his sound, reaching back to the heartfelt immediacy of vintage R&B while remaining firmly grounded in the present.
Yamin co-wrote and co-produced Let’s Get to What’s Real with longtime collaborators Brett Nolan and Aaron Goldstein, who also played various instruments on the sessions. “I wanted to have the same producers for this whole album, which I’d never had before, and I wanted to be totally involved in the production, the mixing, the vocal arrangements, from start to finish,” Yamin asserts. “I really got to get my hands dirty this time, and I learned so much making this album. I think it personifies who I am as a singer and songwriter. Artists are supposed to grow and test boundaries and challenge themselves, and I feel like I got to do that with this record.”
The only two songs on the album not co-written by Yamin are the infectious “I’ll Be That Bridge” and the aforementioned title number. Both of those tunes were penned by Brett Nolan’s father, veteran tunesmith Kenny Nolan, renowned for writing such hits as “My Eyes Adored You” and “Lady Marmalade,” as well as his own ’70s smash “I Like Dreamin’.”
“It was very inspiring having Kenny involved with this project,” Yamin notes. “He’d come by during our sessions and he’d play songs for me here and there, and some of them really stuck, including the two on the album. We recorded the album at Kenny and Brett’s studio in Van Nuys; it has so much history and so much ambience, and Kenny and the studio played a big role in how the album turned out.”
Elliott Yamin was born in Los Angeles and soon after, his family moved to Pasadena, CA where he first discovered his vocal talent while singing with his neighbors. Yamin later moved to Richmond, VA as a youth, and soon found employment singing cover material in a local jazz group and working as a DJ on a local R&B radio station. It was here that he auditioned for American Idol and won a spot in the show’s competition during its 2006 season. Simon Cowell described him as “potentially the best male vocalist,” while guest Stevie Wonder encouraged him to pursue music full-time.
Yamin launched his recording career with his highly anticipated 2007 debut album Elliott Yamin, which debuted at Number Three on the Billboard album chart and was the highest-debuting album by an independent artist in SoundScan history. The self-titled disc achieved gold status in the U.S. and Japan (where he continues to maintain a large audience), and yielded the hit “Wait for You.”
In the wake of the first album’s release, Yamin received considerable media exposure on countless television shows, while gaining extensive performing experience by touring around the world with his live band. In late 2007, he released the Christmas-themed Sounds of the Season: The Elliott Yamin Holiday Collection, which would be reissued in expanded form the following year as My Kind of Holiday. Yamin’s second official album, Fight for Love, followed in 2009, spawning the successful singles “Fight for Love” and “Can’t Keep on Loving You (From a Distance).”
Yamin’s international touring activities have included several trips to far-flung locales on behalf of a variety of charities, relief groups and peace organizations. He’s also worked tirelessly as an activist and spokesman for a number of organizations promoting awareness, advocacy and aid for those living with diabetes.
Yamin’s close rapport with his fans has allowed him to road-test many of Let’s Get to What’s Real‘s songs. “I’ve been fortunate to get out there and play a lot of this material before the album was released,” he reports, “Everywhere we’ve been so far, the fans have responded really positively. My fans tend to feel personally invested in what I’m doing, and it feels like they’re with me on this part of the journey too.
“I’m so proud of this album; it really feels like me,” he concludes. “This whole project was such a positive experience, and I had such an amazing time making it. If I can keep making records like this, I’ll be a very happy guy.”