Julian Lennon – Everything Changes (2011)

Share this:

Julian Lennon’s Everything Changes, more than anything he’s ever done, confronts his father, and his father’s legacy — both musically and personally. In keeping with such an interior concept, the songs are quietly determined, rarely loud. No surprise, really, to find out the album was principally recorded in a home studio.

That delicate fragility, when it gives way at all, only rises to a kind of broken-hearted certitude– as on “Lookin 4 Luv,” a lead single that sounds like a mash up between John Lennon’s anguished cries in “Help” and the smooth orchestral power pop of the Electric Light Orchestra. “Just For You” billows up for a tough-minded chorus, but quickly settles back into a mid-tempo contemplation on waiting for answers, and for love, and finding none. It’s a theme that’s familiar to anyone who followed the elder Lennon’s sometimes harrowing journey toward contentment.

“Invisible,” maybe the album’s best track, juxtaposes a combustible lyric that questions our capacity for change with a caramelized vocal interplay that likely has George Martin nodding with a knowing pride. “Never Let You Go” hints at the drone-pop of Sgt. Pepper’s-era Fab Four, but with an urbane pop sheen. Then there’s the album-closing “Beautiful,” this elegiac anthem in which Julian seems to be addressing the loss of his father, and what he meant not just to the younger Lennon but to the world.

Attentive fans could see Julian Lennon building toward this. He issued a benefit four-song EP in December 2009 called Lucy, in memory of Lennon’s childhood friend Lucy Vodden — the inspiration via a painting done by Julian at age 4 for the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” Vodden died in ’09 after battling the immune-system disease lupus. Some of the proceeds from the EP were donated to lupus research. In fact, Lennon spent the bulk of the last decade doing philanthropic work, as well as art, photography and documentary filmmaking. His “Whaledreamers” project won eight awards for best international documentary film.

But Lennon has said he never really let go of music. He ended up constructing a home studio in the middle of the last decade, and had composed as many as 30 songs before whittling them down to the 12 presented here. Along the way, there’s clearly followed a belated acknowledgement of the truth we all know: Julian can, and often does, sound something like his father — not just vocally, but also in the melodic construction of the songs themselves. Admitting it doesn’t capitulate to a stricken fanbase’s fruitless attempts to regain a piece, any small piece, of a murdered hero. It is, quite simply, who Julian Lennon is. To deny that is to deny the very blood running through his veins.

Moreover, it’s not all that unusual for someone of Julian’s generation — he’s rounding toward 50 now — to be influenced by the Beatles. If he can’t share in that, and celebrate it, then who can?

Accepting these things, as much as squaring up his own tortured relationship with a dad gone absent in the midst of Beatlemania, seems to have given Julian Lennon a great measure of peace. This considered and long-awaited album, Lennon’s first full-length project since 1998’s Photograph Smile, is better for it, too. Everything Changes has emerged as the most assured release yet from this underrated pop melodist.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close