This is a guest article by author John Cherry. He is the author of two books, Better Than Lennon and Paul McCartney’s Solo Music Career 1970-2010 he can be found at Betterthanlennon.com – Simon

JULIAN LENNON-“EVERYTHING CHANGES”

I was pleased to learn that Julian Lennon had returned to the recording studio after an extended absence. I had always liked him personally and had purchased most of his previous releases. Reports are that he had retreated from music due to unpleasant experiences with the business aspects of recording.

I recall my first listen to a Julian Lennon song in 1984. Putting on the headphones, I closed my eyes and felt that his father John had returned to earth. Did this enhance my interest in Julian’s music? Of course, but I liked it on its own merits as well.

The new music has much less vocal similarity between Julian and John. Nevertheless, any informed Beatle fan will easily recognize both John’s influence, as well as that of Paul McCartney and George Harrison.

The title song opens the CD, stating the premise that the world is a tough place, but people can change to make it better. Like many others in this collection, it is a slower paced song, opening with just a piano following the lyrics. During the choruses, the song fills up with strings and even a synthesizer. A nice opening tune.

“Lookin 4 Luv” is more mid-paced, again opening with just a piano before expanding in the chorus. The lyrics describe a search for love and feelings about love. The middle eight is superb with its beautiful harmonies. The last portions of the song include what sounds like a backwards guitar solo (Beatles “I’m Only Sleeping” influence?) and repeats the title of the song multiple times (another Beatle influence?).

“Hold On” has a soft string opening that leads to a piano solo and then light percussion is added. The song talks about love and trying to convince an ex-lover and friend to return, and healing one’s own heart.

“Touch the Sky” also opens with strings, and speaks of leaving the past behind and digging yourself from the depths of negative feeling. The chorus once again elevates the song. There is a Harrison sounding guitar part, as well as various sound effects. Lyrically, this is one of the best on the release and probably my personal overall favorite.

“Just for You” discusses the trials of love and distraction. It has more changes of pace than the rest of the songs.

“Always” seems to be a song for John if he was still living. Addressing the misery of war, greed and fear, there is hope for solution, but until that happens, “the universe will cry until we get it right.” There is also a dig at religion (“Imagine?”) and politics. Musically, the song is quite simple and fairly slow-paced.

“Disconnected” sounds again like George Harrison, perhaps from the Beatles Sgt. Pepper era. The lyrics are also reminiscent of Harrison, focusing on how to live and what life can bring to you. There is an extended ending, and the song approaches “Hey Jude” in length, clocking in at 6:45.

“Never Let You Go” might remind you of George, John and Paul. The slow opening is led by a sitar, a la George. The lyrics reference The Beatles “All You Need is Love” and Paul’s “Venus and Mars.” The vocal is backed by single note piano and guitar playing. There is also the use of echo and the sound effect of singing from a megaphone.

“Guess It Was For Me” is a song of personal growth; getting away from blaming the world for one’s problems. Perhaps, this is Julian’s way of telling his own story. The mid-paced song has a strong, although brief, guitar solo.

The slow-paced “Don’t Wake Me Up” opens with just a piano and drum brushes, but is joined later by a guitar and drums. I consider it a brighter version of “I’m Only Sleeping.” The lyrics also focus on a beautiful dream of a special love, and not wanting to face the reality of losing that love.

I would consider the finale “Beautiful” a loving tribute from Julian to his father. The constrained ballad is mostly led by a piano, and also builds in the chorus. Julian appears to be addressing his father in heaven, telling him that the love and spirit he showed on earth will continue to live on in the future. I can easily imagine John creating and singing this song.

Joining Julian in the main group for the songs was Grant Ransom (also co-producer with Julian) and Peter Vetesse on guitars, bass, drums, and keyboard, with Vetesse also on backing vocals. There was also Matt Backer on guitar and sitar, Gregory Darling on piano and keyboards, Vanessa Freebairn-Smith on cello, Guy Pratt on bass, Mark “Tuffy” Evans on guitar, and Tim Ellis on backing vocals. Guy Chambers played guitar and bass on “Never Let You Go,” Justin Clayton on guitar and bass on “Beautiful” and a nearly whole different band played on “Always.” Songwriting duties were spread mostly among Julian, Vetessee, and Darling, with additional contributions from others in and outside the musical performers.

This collection is not for anyone looking for a rocker-filled CD. But, it is lyrically strong, and a pleasure to enjoy alone with the headphones and to inspire your mind. It is wonderful to have Julian back and making music.

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