Featured vocalists are a dime a dozen. Grab a lady who can sing, perhaps auto-tune her, and throw her on a dance production and voila, potential club success. Nothing guarantees the longevity of the singer in question, as long as she sounds good "Right Now." These potentially talented vocalists may indeed fade into obscurity if they aren't careful. Or, they can take Julie Thompson's route, and refuse that outcome. There's a good chance you don't know who Julie Thompson is. She's worked with James Holden in the duo of Holden & Thompson. She's worked with Tiesto, both as himself and his alias Allure. She's worked with The Attic, Freemasons, Freestylers, and Andy Duguid. And now, working with Black Hole Records, Julie Thompson is breaking out of the "featured" position with her debut album, Feeling For Corners.
When An Artist Isn't Featured...
OK, so the reality is that Feeling For Corners isn't going to spawn a pop sensation. The album is heavy dance and trance, which suits her voice perfectly. And as September-or-Robyn-esque as she might look in the book of her album, she just isn't musically quirky or memorable enough to break into the mainstream just yet. That's the downside of the album. You probably won't be singing many of these tracks later on, when there's no music and you're wishing there was because this goshawful person next to you will not SHUT UP and you just need something else to focus on. Julie Thompson will not likely transport you into pop heaven and give you any reason to blissfully ignore said goshawful person at that moment. What you will most likely find appealing about Julie Thompson's album is how well it supports a hard workout regimen. Also, extended versions of her tracks would translate very well to a club atmosphere. And in my book, those are huge compliments. Dance music isn't just beats and vocals, but the energy that carries you from beginning to end, the force that pushes you to keep moving. Who would dance to music that lacks that feel? That's something Feeling For Corners has in spades. And this is obvious straight from the opening track, "What Will I Do?" which bangs its way through all the requirements for a great trance track.
Feeling for Dance Floors
The club that plays Feeling For Corners is a club I want to visit. There, they play heavy and growly house music ("Something To You," "It Only Hurts," "All Is Cold"), visceral music that really dives into your head and hips and demands action. It plays breezy pop dance ("Shine," "Chains," "How Does It Feel?"), that beckons you to bop along but also makes you want to sing with her. This club also spins bouncy electro ("Satellites," "I Am Yours," "Temptress") that has moments of distinction before plummeting you back into a sexy club groove. And that's what makes Feeling For Corners a solid club/gym album, because this energy and variety keeps you both interested and moving from high-powered trance opening to the cool, somber "Home." What makes "Home" so satisfying and distinctive not only includes its length (creating the impression that there is a hidden track instead of 8 minutes of one song), but also that Thompson really put everything into this track by removing the beats for the majority of the epic journey. She builds up to a dramatic release that would translate so well to a remix and would definitely put any club into a dancing frenzy.
Thompson's Feeling For Corners isn't going to ignite many international charts, but she's stuck her foot in the door. Now we know she can create a solid album of her own music, and there is enough familiarity and fun in her work that her next step can be to create some distinguishing moments for her talent. As to whether or not you should check this album out, I will say that dance and trance fans should definitely get their hands on this. Anyone looking for the next underground pop sensation, however, should look elsewhere.
Released October 2009 on Black Hole Recordings.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.