Frank Yamma
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Frank Yamma

Brompton, South Australia, Australia | Established. Jan 01, 1985 | INDIE

Brompton, South Australia, Australia | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1985
Solo World Traditional


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On this excellent twelve-track album, Australian guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Frank Yamma, ably backed by Bart Willoughby (drums), David Bridie (piano and keys), Phil Wales Bilas (guitar) and Helen Mountfort (cello), produces a sparse yet warm, sweeping sound.

Yamma's expressive voice is put to dramatic use on the moody She Cried which aches with yearning and he is in fine form on the soaringly melodic Nguta Waljilpa which features beautiful instrumentation. As the majority of the songs are slow-paced and almost gentle in execution, this album is often both relaxing and tantalisingly haunting. Down The River, for example, burns slowly yet packs an emotive punch and sounds as if it could slip neatly into PJ Harvey's repertoire.

Yamma and co. pick up the pace on the rockier Calling Your Name which manages to be both edgy and highly melodic. Yamma's soulful performance and the band's understated yet high-impact delivery ensures that Countryman is an absorbing and immensely moving listening experience.

Best track: Calling Your Name

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In A Word: Haunting


The international success of the soulful singer-songwriter Gurrumul has led to a flurry of interest in the music of the indigenous peoples of Australia. Quite right too, for there are other fine Aboriginal performers, as shown by the Black Arm Band project and now this set by Frank Yamma, the first release on a new label specialising in music from the region. Like those other musicians, he concentrates on the history and problems of his homeland, but does so using western rather than traditional musical styles, even when singing in local languages. There's no reggae or rock (the BAB's specialities) here, but rather a gutsy and often pained set of ballads that veer between folk-pop and country. The sparse backing is provided by his own acoustic and electric guitar work, with the occasional addition of cello, piano or drums, and he's at his best with the emotional Make More Spear, a plea for self-respect and an end to alcohol abuse. He saves many of his best melodies for the non-English-language songs, which include the epic and soulful Pitjantjara and Docker River, which sounds like an intense country weepie. Sadly, no translations are provided. - The Guardian


Still working on that hot first release.



Frank Yamma is a traditional Pitjantjatjara man from Australia's central desert and speaks five languages. An extraordinary songwriter and an exceptional guitarist, Frank began performing on stage with his widely renowned musician father, the late Isaac Yamma, at the age of 9.

With his incredible voice, rich, deep and resonant, Frank is regarded by many as one of Australias most important Indigenous musicians. His brutally honest tales of alcohol abuse, cultural degradation, respect for the old law and the importance of country are spine tingling. Frank has the ability to cross cultural and musical boundaries with his honest tales of living in two cultures, whether sung in English or Pitjantjatjara.

For over a decade Frank Yammas music career was put on hold whilst Frank dealt with the everyday challenges Indigenous males face living in Australia. His career was revived in 2010 by David Bridie who worked with Frank to record and produce his debut solo album. Countryman was recorded in 2010, and released through not for profit Wantok Musik Label at the 2010 Australasian World Music Expo in Melbourne.

Countryman quickly exploded onto the Australian music psyche receiving album of the week on RRR and national airplay on ABC Radio, garnering many 5 star reviews. Since 2010 Frank has been invitated to perform at a staggering number of Australian festivals and has toured twice to Europe and the UK. His music has been released in the UK through proper records and in the Bennalux through Xango Music. Countryman has received glowing reviews worldwide, selling thousands and continuing to sell strongly.

Frank was a finalist at the 2011 National indigenous Music Awards. Also in 2011 he headed to the UK to perform at The City of London Festival followed by a string of arts centre shows around the country; and then on to Europe to perform at the mammoth Colours of Ostrava Music Festival in Czechoslovakia.  Back by popular demand in 2012 Frank performed at the BT River of Music for the London Olympic Festival, WOMAD UK, he appeared on the same bill as The Waterboys and The Proclaimers at the Hebridean Celtic Festival, and took in the magnificent cultural surroundings performing at the Festival BLED in Slovenia.

Locally Frank has been converting audiences at festivals including Woodford Folk Festival; The Dreaming Festival; the Adelaide Fringe Festival in their Garden of Unearthly Delights, Bellingen Global Carnival; Bluesfest; Blue Mountains Festival; Brisbane Multicultural Festival; Brisbane Festival; Brunswick Music Festival; Garma Festival; Port Fairy Folk Festival; Waking the Spirit; National Folk Festival and WOMAD Earthstation. He has headlined a string of club shows as well as an international support tour with Tony Joe White. He performed in EORA, a music theatre production by respected production team Wesley Enoch (director) and Wendy Blacklock (producer), for the 2012 Sydney Festival. In 2013 he performed at the SBS launch for NITV at The Rocks as well as the Wantok Sing Sing spectacular at Womadelaide and the Sydney Opera House for Message Sticks Festival.

2014 will see Frank release his new album Uncle and perform a string of dates across Canada in June taking in some of the regions most prestigious festivals and arts centres.

Band Members