Julie Dexter and her imprint Ketch A Vibe Records are a good example that you can be successful with releasing your albums via the internet only. Of course she has made herself a name within discerning circles of lovers of broken beats and nu jazz coming out of West London before while living in the UK . But she really became well-known and one of modern soul’s epitomes after her move to Atlanta and the release of the Peace Of Mind EP and her fabulous Dexterity album. It’s good to see that the old word-of-mouth recommendation still works and that you don’t have to sell out.
Conscious is Julie’s second full-length album and the forth release on her own label. Like it’s predecessor Dexterity this is a record that commands your attention to understand it in its whole beauty and musicality. And I’m sure Conscious will grow after each listening just like Dexterity has grown with the time I spend and lived with the record and songs like Walk With Me, How Long, or Judgement Day has obtained a special meaning for me.
With this release you will also notice a progression in Julie’s music. On Dexterity there were noticeable dub/reggae influences, on Conscious they take a back seat and the soul elements are emphasized. The reason may be that Julie has worked with Michael Johnson on all but three songs.
The results are laid-back midtempo tunes like A Place For Us, The Rhythm Daughter, or Small World that have a pleasant early 90s vibe and evokes memories of Miki Bleu’s All My Life (I’ve Waitied) or Giorge Pettus’ Don’t Put Me Off ‘Til Tomorrow with their purling keys.
Choices is a great story telling soul song about what can happen to your train of thoughts when you meet a former lover again.
The song that’s the most reminiscent of the aforementioned reggae roots to my ears is Look Who’s Got Ya Back, a song about the help true friends (and god) can be.
The Race, produced by Julie and M. Scales and the Common Ground Collective, sees Julie playing with words over a great, funky uptempo groove (”The thought of giving up the race is out of the question/ yet everyday I question a new question/ not to mention/ everyday another question left unanswered/ and there’s confusion no solution/ where’s the resolution/ no resolution/ but I’m making waves waves are making me/ in this game you read my name/ trying not to claim fame but fame is claiming me writing my own destiny/ we need new writers/ writers need new inspiration/ our misfortune for too long has been the news sensation/ tears stain the pain all over the world“).
Like Ours, Julie’s collaboration with Tom Naim, that first appeared on the Bossa Jazz II compilation and was released as a 12″ single as well, is also featured on the album and it’s still one of the best piece of modern uptempo soul while the lyrics are an up-to-date version of Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off.
The album’s closer, Rain Song is a slow dreamy song that features a great sax that works just perfect with Julie’s interwoven vocals here. As good as a warm, refreshing summer rain on a hot day.
Add to this more quality songs like Conscious or the groovy, sax-ridden I See Colors and you have further proof what a great musician Julie Dexter is.
Tracklisting of Conscious: 1. Choices/ 2. Like Ours/ 3. Look Who’s Got Ya Back/ 4. A Place For Us/ 5. Show Me Now/ 6. Rhythms Daughter/ 7. Conscious/ 8. Small World/ 9. I See Colors/ 10. The Race/ 11. Rain Song | released 2004 by Ketch A Vibe Records
For more infos visit juliedexter.com.
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