Bonnie Raitt’s appreciation of Richard Julian made me yawn, and his association with Norah Jones made me shrug. The earnestly dull opening song “World Keeps On” put me to sleep. Ten songs later, though, the varied rhythms and moods of Sunday Morning in Saturday’s Shoes made me a believer in old-school quality. Julian recalls Peter Case’s passion, the jazz-inflected languor of Lyle Lovett, John Prine’s worldliness, and the exaggerated laziness of Leon Redbone. The jaunty “If You Stay” and the hazy “Brooklyn in the Morning” are good enough to carry whole albums. The backing never gets more complicated than drums, upright bass, and Mitchell Froom’s occasional keyboard flourishes, but Julian’s wit, sincerity, and sparkling guitar stand out.
“A Thousand Days” begins a purple patch. This solo piece sounds like a marvelous dream of romance, a perfect balance of love, danger, loss and joy that just avoids the melodramatic. “Morning Bird” is just as good. “Syndicated” is a nuanced take on the folly of restlessness and of importing America Inc. The surreal and beautiful “Man in the Hole” manages to rhyme “stick to his guns” with “bearing cinnamon buns” while bringing to mind William Golding’s The Spire. No small feat. “God III” deserves to be a hit. How I wish I’d written the corking lines “God the third, Jesus’ son, GPA 2.1 / He’s just lazy, he’s not dumb”.
Sunday Morning in Saturday’s Shoes
US: 26 Feb 2008
UK: Available as import
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// Sound Affects
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