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Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and musical mastermind RJ Thompson has today released his highly anticipated third studio album, Yearbook listen here. The full, 12-track record follows the release of critically acclaimed cuts Forest Fires, ‘Rescue You’,Feel Alive,’ ‘Super 8’ and ‘Your Money Or Your Life’ which launched RJ’s brand new era and his first new music since 2020’s Official UK Top 5 sophomore album Lifeline

Like most of us, the artist from the North East of England spent much of the previous two years hemmed in by his own four walls. Despite being physically restricted, the headspace it granted inspired dreams, reflection and ultimately the music he would now prepare to release as his most ambitious and expansive yet. “I was stuck in a room writing songs on my piano but I was dreaming of something much bigger,” he explains of the horizon-filling sounds of the new record. “Ultimately, for the most part, we’ve all been stuck in rooms for two years, but we were dreaming of all these places we hadn’t been to for ages, all the people we hadn’t seen. Dreaming of a much bigger world outside the door is essentially what I’ve been doing with this record.”

Musically, this was quite literally the case. While RJ was writing songs at his piano, in his head he was hearing saxophones, string quartets, big guitar moments and more across the twelve tracks that would become the magnificently instrumented Yearbook. A masterful catalog of songwriting, RJ packs together optimistic lyricism with impassioned vocals on the LP, combining a plethora of differing sonics for the listener to unpack throughout the record. The result? A collection of hook-driven, electronic-tinged pop-rock anthems with intelligent synth motifs, nostalgic guitar solos and cinematic strings; a timeless record with the original RJ Thompson stamp. With Yearbook, RJ becomes a maestro at creating music that successfully combines relevant and relatable concepts with euphoric pop sensibilities. 

RJ’s storytelling prowess is ultimately what makes Yearbook both a sign of the time, and universally relatable of life as it was and how it continues to be: “It is not a record about lockdowns, but it references a lot of what’s happened in the last couple of years without being too on the nose. There’s a lot of reference to loss. Loss of people, loss of time, loss of confidence. The title track is essentially about two people who we sadly lost last year, but there is also a feeling of getting back to life too. Getting back out into the wider world.”

Yearbook will see RJ again share a world bigger than just the music. As he did with previous album Lifeline, the physical record of Yearbook boasts groundbreaking augmented reality technology. The artwork and bonus content change with the time of day, year and weather via the accompanying free IOS and Android app, with over 300 living and breathing front covers to discover over time as an album sleeve that changes with its possessor. Order Yearbook on record here.

The AR technology not only gives the physical record an innovative second-life, but has allowed RJ to craft unique digital spaces filled with the same creative energy that fuelled the music, creating a deeper world around his songs.

“As I moved into the final stages of recording Yearbook, it started to become clearer what the main themes were… that feeling of loss, and that feeling of a bigger world outside your metaphorical walls. I wanted the artwork to reflect those themes, and reflect how I felt as I made the record” says RJ of the AR elements. This time the cover was created to seamlessly add depth to the lyrical themes. “The front cover shows me, alone in a room, and if you hover your device over the artwork it will come to life. Depending on the time of day, the time of year, and the weather where you are in the world, the front cover you see will be a reflection of that. So if it’s a rainy night where you are, you’ll see videos of me in the room on a rainy night, writing songs, watching TV… there are literally hundreds of different things you could see.”

As well as a must-hear on record, RJ is a must-see live act, last month having performed an exclusive album preview show; at Sage Hall Two, a hometown show in Gateshead. He has also shared special live videos of the album’s singles at London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios. Filmed in Studio 2 by director Ian West, watch RJ and his band perform Feel Alive’, ‘Your Money Or Your LifeandSuper 8 live.

Dubbed ‘Synth Springsteen’ by the UK media and influenced by the likes of Beck, Brandon Flowers and Bleachers, RJ Thompson’s artistry merges brilliant storytelling with a signature nostalgic sound. He’s received lots of love on BBC radio from the likes of BBC Radio 2, 6Music and BBC Introducing. The Times claims that he is ‘one to watch’ while The Guardian hails the artist as ‘prolific’, with additional acclaim from the likes of Wonderland, Official Charts, CLASH, Record of the Day and more. 

Starting his journey in the backstreet pubs and clubs of his native North-East, having taken up the drums aged six and self-taught guitar and piano later on, RJ has gone on to perform all over Europe, including as support for musical legend Jools Holland on multiple tours, performing at venues including the Royal Albert Hall

RJ’s debut album Echo Chamber was a contemporary take on nostalgic music and wider culture with a distinctly retro production technique. It gained critical acclaim and helped cement him as an artist to watch. Later, sophomore album Lifeline saw RJ first experiment with augmented reality, using the same creative energy that fuelled his music to turn the album into a truly unique, personalised experience. The record garnered praise from press and fans alike, and gained a spot in the Official UK Top 5 as well as hitting #1 on the Official UK Download Chart.

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