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RJ Thompson RJ Thompson
Album: Echo Chamber
Label: Chicken Wire
Tracks: 9

2017 was quite the year for RJ Thompson, featuring two tours with Jools Holland, and finishing up with the release of his debut studio album. He's had to work hard for his opportunity, playing small pubs and clubs up in the North East before being spotted by a sound engineer at an open mic night. The chance discovery led to supporting Midge Ure over 30 dates across the UK and Europe. Since then he's supported Deacon Blue, and Gabrielle Aplin, and released several EPs and a live album.

The title track which kicks off the album has a definite 80s feel to it, with a Genesis or early Phil Collins vibe. Yet while the sound conjures up visions of The Breakfast Club (echoed in the video) and Ferris Bueller, the message is very modern featuring the divisions in society dredged up by the likes of the Brexit vote. Blackout Windows has already been released as a single, less electro-pop but still with a retro throwback sound. Go It Alone features a great electric guitar solo, with a little more blues in with the usual pop rock sound.

Highlight of the album comes early on with London, one of the more contemporary sounding tracks. It comes across as the kind of feel-good soaring song that usually play out over adverts for products you instantly forget, but the song stays in your head for hours afterwards. It's an anthem for those struggling to deal with the isolation of the modern world, especially after the events of the last year or so. Skimming Stones is a laid back number with a gorgeous melody, and Lie Close To Me is more of a ballad full of raw emotion.

For a debut (studio) album, there is a not a weak song across its admittedly light running time. Echo Chamber is a tight affair with barely a note out of place, and nine very strong tracks. While the retro vibes are strong, there is also something very modern and almost timeless here. It's an exciting start, and suggests great things are ahead for RJ Thompson.

Adam Jenkins