Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Julian Lennon - Valotte
Side one opens with the beautiful title track about an old castle in Bourgogne wine fields of France. “Valotte” was released as the second single; it peaked at number 75 in Australia, number 55 in the UK, number 10 in New Zealand, number 9 in Canada and on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 4 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and number 2 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. With the simple piano and light orchestration backing him, there is no mistaking that Julian picked up a lot of his vocal delivery from his late father John Lennon. This opening track lets you know right off the bat that a legacy is continuing.
The mid-tempo “O.K. for You”, a song about moving on to a new relationship, features horn accents and a funky rock rhythm.
I like the blues-rock swagger to “On the Phone”, a late-at-night lonely monologue.
“Space” has a 70’s progressive vibe to it, very laid back and cosmically expansive. It really puts me at ease as the music gently washes over me.
“Well I Don’t Know” was released as the B-side to the first single in the UK and the second single in the US. It has a very 70’s sensibility to it lyrically while the music features a very 80’s drum machine beat. It works for me.
Side two begins with “Too Late for Goodbyes”. As the first single, it went to number 26 in Denmark, number 24 in New Zealand, number 13 in Australia, number 11 on the US Mainstream Rock chart, number 6 in Canada and the UK, number 5 in Ireland and on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 1 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. I remember how big this song was, getting a lot of radio airplay throughout my sophomore year of college. The up-beat tempo counters the lyrical post-break-up analysis quite well.
“Lonely” very much embodies its title, from the despondent bass to the soul-searching saxophone.
It is time to kick things back around with a more upbeat tempo. “Say You’re Wrong”, the third single, reached number 75 in the UK, number 31 in Australia, number 30 in Canada, number 21 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 6 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and number 3 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. I particularly like the guitar solo and the horn accents on this one.
“Jesse” is the only album track not written by Lennon; this one was penned by China Burton. As the final single, it rose to number 54 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 24 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. It has a strong synth line and a bit of a Caribbean beat.
“Let Me Be”, the B-side to the first single in the US and the second single in the UK, ends the album on a bit of somber. The guitar riff is straight out of the blues.
I find Valotte to be a solid debut album. Julian Lennon had a lot of expectations to live up to while, at the same time, needing to prove himself as a song-writer and performer. I found this record balanced both of those aspects very well.