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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Shine CD Cover
Image © Julia Jenkins 2002  

(11 May 2003) The debut album from York's up and coming singer songwriter Julia Jenkins is a ten track collection entitled Shine. Julia sings lead and backing vocals and performs acoustic guitar. She is ably supported by band members Duncan Rayson (keyboard), Kev Gibbons (whistle, bodran, guitar, bass) and Ché (percussion). Guest artists include various combinations from almost the entire Mostly Autumn (album reviews) lineup: Heather Findlay (backing vocals, tambourine), Bryan Josh (electric and Spanish guitar), Jonathan Blackmore (brush snare), Angela Goldthorpe (flute), Liam Davison (E-bow, acoustic guitar) and Iain Jennings (keyboard, tambourine). Iona's (review) Troy Donockley (cittern) as well as Pat Corner-Walker (drums), Pete Doney (guitars) also guest in various tracks on the recording.

After a chance meeting with a street performer in Bath much earlier in her musical career, Julie decided to learn to play the guitar and sing. Six months after returning from travels with a previous partner, she not only learnt guitar but picked up sixteen cover songs in just six weeks brought a packed house to thunderous applause.

From there Julia began getting small acoustic gigs around York and landed a residency in a local cafe bar. Further travelsand life experiences--six weeks busking around Japan, three months in Australia and six months in London--led to original songwriting and the recording of her debut album. Since then she entered a York Acoustic Music competition and after many heats came third out of forty musicians.

Clearly rooted in singer songwriter material, the album drifts into other territories with skill, determination and great sound. Julia has a clear, crystalline and powerful voice with the intensity needed to evoke powerful emotions during her performance. The material provides a great glimpse into her singing, songwriting and arranging talent.

Acoustic ballads provide the dominant force within the album. Performed by Julia alone singing atop acoustic guitar, the album's title and penultimate track is a stunning example.Pete Doney joins on classical guitar in the similarly styled "All I Have To Say." Troy Donockley's contribution is the cittern on the gentle acoustic number "You & Me" while Kev Gibbons whistle adds a great Celtic texture to an otherwise pure singer songwriter styled tune.

The more robustly arranged material like opening track "Final Story" performed by Julia's entire band gives a hint to Julia's talent for spinning attractive arrangements. Kev Gibbon's haunting whistle perfectly compliments the gentle rocking texture of the tune that will certainly draw listeners right into the album. "Lush Disguise" picks up on a similar theme and it's highly accessible hook and great melody makes this one of the album's standouts.

If acoustic ballads provide the album's backbone, the arms and legs that show the artist's virtuosity are provided by the lusher light rock tracks "Angel" and the stunning "Skin Deep," with great vocal harmonies by Heather Findlay. "Only You," is a great track with Julia's evocative vocals supported by the electric guitar by Bryan Josh, superb keyboard work by Duncan Rayson and a great whistle solo by Kev Gibbons. The most progressively styled instrumentation on the album is in the ballad "Come in from the cold." Complete with Iain Jennings' lush keyboard and Kev Gibbons' great whistle part, it is another one of the album's clear standouts.

Julia Jenkins'album Shine should clearly be explored further. You can order a copy from her website. Worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this great album, it is a must listen!

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