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Julia Dollison: Observatory

Retuning timeworn standards for the 21st century is hardly an original idea. Many a singer has tried, too often falling into the empty pit that is experimentation simply for experimentation’s sake. Rare is the vocal acrobat who, like neophyte recording artist Julia Dollison, can remain aloft with interpretations both fresh and substantive. Wrapping the likes of “Autumn in New York,” “All the Things You Are,” “Night and Day” and “I’m Old Fashioned” in postmillennial disquiet, Dollison seems the vocal actualization of the curious dichotomy–jaundiced cynicism blended with fragile optimism–that defines her Generation Y. As such, she can echo Esquivel-esque otherworldliness one minute, soft kittenish innocence the next.

Among the 13 tracks that fill Dollison’s auspicious debut, both her superlatively distingue reading of Mose Allison’s “Your Mind Is on Vacation” and her ironically tender interpretation of Rufus Wainwright’s deliciously arch “Poses” best represent the merging of singer and sentiment. But the pairing that here thrills most finds Dollison taking “In a Mellotone” farther than even Lambert, Hendricks and Ross ever imagined, fueled by the phenomenal power and passion of guitarist Ben Monder’s Hendrix-worthy licks.

Originally Published