Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Spotlight: Julie Dexter
Originally Appears in Issue 8
There is something about Julie Dexter’s voice. Smooth and slow in pace, but delivered with a playful effervescence, the soul singer lets it gently splash at the end of each sentence, as she bounces from one idea to the next.
We’re speaking over the phone about her fourth album, New Again, a collection of songs fused with a blend of jazz, soul and reggae released in April earlier this year. The English singer, born in Birmingham but now based in Atlanta, Georgia, is full of enthusiasm when talking about her latest effort, describing her music as “jazzy soul, dipped in the roots of reggae”.
Arriving 11 years after her debut, Peace of Mind, the material found on New Again reflects a fresh beginning for Dexter. “This is a whole new phase of my life”, she says. “I just became a mother again. There’s a lot been happening since the last album was released [in 2005]. I’ve gotten married; I’ve had a second child. So you know, it’s just like saying ‘I’m back but I’m new, and there’s a lot of new stuff happening’”.
With lush, indulgent songs such as ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Blue Skies’, New Again is marked from the outset with a confident soulful jazz. Within them, “there’s a sense of a new day, there’s optimism, there’s faith”, the singer says in an accent that now owes as much to the Atlanta sun as the Birmingham rain.
“In terms of putting an album together, sometimes I go by the lyrics, sometimes I go by the music, sometimes the tempo – there are so many things that determine for me the mood of an album, so in this particular instance I definitely viewed [New Again] with a lyrical conscience of sunshine and blue skies”.
Working in tandem with her team of musicians and producers, Dexter created a record she descrines as “a variety of sounds, tempos and what I call backdrops for me to express myself as a singer-songwriter. So, you know, I remember thinking a little bit of dance here, a bit of jazz, a bit of love, a bit of blues”. The result is a self-assured collection of songs.
When Dexter is not recording music and touring, she is busy managing her small music label Ketch A Vibe Records, through which she releases her own material. But, with four albums in, she shows no sign of giving up creating music anytime soon. “It’s been a journey for me”, the singer laughs. --Simon Mee