Whilst browsing my fave used CD store, I came across a CD with a sticker that billed the artist as the “new Dido of chill-out!”. Such a lofty promise seemed bound to disappoint, but the album was cheap and I’m a sucker for chill-out CDs.
Turns out that this “new Dido of chill-out!”, while not exactly that, is a great artist in her own right. Her debut album Julia Messenger (2003) is a nice, light mix of trip-hop and electronica, and her voice is pretty to boot.
The album starts off nicely with “I Confess”, all tinkling chimes and synths – and some “drum talk”! “Butterflies” follows and is a dreamy, misty confection of light drums and vocal flourishes. The most “pop” song of the album comes in the form of “I Miss You”, and while it’s a perfectly fine track, it’s a bit too average compared to the first two tracks. The niftiness picks back up with “Another Option” and its rubbery beats, deep bass, and strong chorus.
“Pain” has a nice, laid-back vibe, and that continues with “What You Can’t See”, an ambient groove. Why there’s a remix of “Butterflies” smack dab in the middle of the album, I have no idea – it’s all right, but the original is much more atmospheric. “Telepathy” and its dark piano and vinyl crackle comes next, and has something of a jazz feel. As does “For The Love Of You”, a moody, bass-y trip-hop track. “Shiver” has an icy atmosphere and nice string touches.
Clocking in at 9 minutes is the final album track, “The Eagle”, and it holds your attention for the entire length – lovely vocals, piano, and low-key beats will lull you into calmness. Radio edits of “I Miss You” and “I Confess” finish the CD as bonus tracks.
My only complaint about the album is that the tracks could stand to be a little shorter – most are at least 5 minutes long. Aside from that, the album is perfect to relax to and get lost in.