Chicken Wire Records [Release date 17.11.17]
Currently on tour opening for Jools Holland, and with the endorsement of broadsheets like The Times and The Guardian ringing in his ears, North-East singer songwriter RJ Thompson’s debut studio album sails about as close to ‘pop’ as GRTR! ventures.
But despite support slots with Gabrielle Aplin, Deacon Blue, and Jools (including a performance at the Royal Albert Hall), several EPs and a live album under his belt, Echo Chamber offers only a meagre 9 tracks over 32 minutes. Which somewhat belies The Guardian’s PR quote of ‘Prolific. ..’
But unlike many of his acoustic guitar wielding contemporaries, Thompson occupies a far more eclectic and diverse space. With vocals that have the just the faintest whiff of Phil Collins, a vintage Roland 808 drum machine providing the foundations, more than just a casual nod to the Eighties, and melodies infused with a heavy dose of soul, Echo Chamber is a beautifully constructed piece of pop.
In the days when the likes of Kajagoogoo and Nik Kershaw were dominating the charts, Echo Chamber would have been up there, selling like hot cakes. But those days are long gone, and despite the undisputable writing quality and delivery of songs the opening pairing of the title track and ‘Blackout Windows’ I suspect Thompson is going to struggle to carve out a sustainable marketplace niche.
In many ways, Echo Chamber parallels the work of Jake Morley – another talented artist who, despite best endeavours has found it difficult to establish a toe hold much deeper than a healthy social media based following. ***1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
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