Music Review: Imagine by Jules Rendell

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Updated January 21, 2019
Jules Rendell - Old Friend (Official Video)
Jules Rendell - The Return (Official Video)

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Turning mental health battles in to music: Jules Rendell sets to release her debut album ‘IMAGINE’, 10 tracks of electro classic soul capturing the pressures of living city life in 2018.

Exploring themes of self worth, perfectionism and fear, Rendell has fused her soulful roots with electronic soundscapes, hints of funk and pop hooks.

“Through my own mental health struggles, I’ve learned a lot about using my own imagination as a positive force for my life. Faith is visionary; it helps us to imagine good things happening for us to see them happening. I’ve had to change the way I think to push through the barriers of low self worth to even make this album. Each song is a reminder to myself for how to keep healthy in my mind; whether it be my selftalk, rest, letting go of fear or staying connected to friends. They are God’s words to me.”

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Imagine by Jules Rendell
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One thing I love to do is to find a new artist that isn't too well known and review their work and bring it to you guys. This is just such an artist and an album! This is the debut full-length album called "Imagine" from the talented Jules Rendell. You may not know her name but if you are a fan of The Great British Bake Off then you may have already heard her voice as a 'gospel' singing cupcake from the shows sponsor adverts. Other areas Jules has worked to hone her skills include working in a variety of different roles with the likes of The X Factor, Beverley Knight and even The Gorillaz. In 2014 Jules crowdfunded The LotusBloom EP and since then has been working towards this new album which was released in April this year.

The first single from "Imagine" was released in October 2017 and it's the first track on the album called "Old Friend". It's a good introduction to the album and what to expect. It's a more pop-soul infusion and exceedingly accessible as she calls back to the titular friend. Some people have interpreted this as a relationship from her past that helps her to stay focused. Could it be that she is referring to something other than a human friendship, something more of a spiritual reawakening? This track is repeated as a remix towards the end of the album. The second single to be released happens to be the second track on the album. "Let Go" features Riccy Mitchell and it begins this exploration of self that informs most of the other tracks on the album. In this song it's about letting go of being a perfectionist in everything, to allow yourself the freedom to do things, to even make mistakes, because when you do you might actually be able to chase your dreams. There's a great groove on this track, and again it's very easy on the ears, but with something to say.

It's a Biblical principle that there is power in the tongue. It's also commonly accepted that speaking negatively about yourself and others will keep you continuing to feel down. The antidote in "Fixed" is to live in Joy, finding the joy in your life and surroundings and that this will lift you. There is some good advice in this song, Jules writes from a personal position when it comes to mental health, self worth and anxiety - issues that are explored on this album. "Epiphany" mellows things out as this song plays out something positive, it's a relationship that gives support and strength. Jules' vocals here are softer than the previous tracks and quite mesmerising too. "Troubles" is again a softer song with a sharper percussion to counterpoint this which works brilliantly. This song comes across as a friend giving advice to someone who is struggling with their own thoughts, the struggles that they are facing and dealing with. The song encourages us to lay it all down in the resting place, that place Christians should be familiar with, it's at the foot of the cross as we take things to Jesus. I love the way that this album goes for maximum acceptance by not being too explicit about the artists faith, but at the same time not shying away from themes of faith and even mentioning that sometimes it feels like God seems silent.

"The Return" was the last single released. This track does a great job of wrapping up a lot of what has gone before. The problems that Jules knows have followed her in the past are no longer following her because she has come back from the dead. This is one of the most obviously Christian songs as she talks about getting stuck in her problems until she cries out "who can give me my freedom?" Then she talks about meeting the power that holds the world together, and the hope of living forever. This is a testimony in cleverly and beautifully written lyrics. The last original track on the album is the stripped back "Remember" which just features the great vocals simply backed by Piano. Inspired by Maya Angelou and written with Bianca Rose this song has a sad element to it, as it seems to be about someone no longer in the singers life, but there is a happiness because of what she chooses to remember about that person. It's a song that will test the British stiff upper-lip to it's full extent by the time you get to the end, if your heartstrings haven't been tugged then you probably don't have one!

The album rounds out with a couple of other versions of songs that have gone before and they both add something new to the originals. As a whole this is an incredibly clever album that you could easily hear as a non-Christian and enjoy, but there is enough to find out a little bit more about faith, especially with "The Return" giving a solid testimony. The best thing about this album is that there are very few people in this space at the moment that are releasing good, solid, original soul music. Jules has an inspired touch in both the songwriting and the vocals as well as working with the right people to get a great and positive feel from the whole album. 

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