Girls Need Attention (Compass Records, 2010)
Confident and clever, slick and slyly savvy, Richard Julian’s Girls Need Attention is everything that you could want out of a singer/songwriter and more. Girls Need Attention has got the goods with sharply turned out lyrics, a breezy, sophisticated style and a kick ass back up band, flashing bits of self reflection before turning to wry humor. No simple flash in the pan, Mr. Julian has earned his chops with his 2008 recording Sunday Morning in Saturday’s Shoes, as well as his tours with Roseanne Cash, Nora Jones, Bonnie Raitt and Susanne Vega.
Released on the Compass Records label, Girls Need Attention has all the hallmarks of this extraordinary label, founded by musicians Alison Brown and Garry West, in that this recording is a musician’s delight.
Rounding out the CD’s sound with Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, box fiddle player Jolie Holland, vocalist Sasha Dobson, bassist Tim Luntzel, drummer Dan Rieser, keyboardist Dred Scott and baritone guitarist Steve Elliot, Girls Need Attention sparkles, but it’s the addition of French horn player Louis Schwardron, tuba player Marcus Rojas and bass clarinetist Doug Wieselman that turns the sound on it’s ear. Mr. Julian steps up the sound with ukulele, resonator guitar, electric and acoustic guitar and banjo. Girls Need Attention seems possessed of a nebulous genre, built out of hearty doses of folk, country and blues, and yet manages to come across as uniquely fresh.
Bare knuckling it out with his lyrics, Mr. Julian punches out sentiment one moment with a savage fierceness before simply laying out others with a bare breath. Girls Need Attention finds those soft, sweet spaces found on tracks like “Window” and “World We Made” in between the harder, darker spaces found on tracks like “Words” and “Lost in Your Light” of a truly gifted songwriter. Mr. Julian finds delight in the the turn of a phrase like in “Alexander’s Black GT” with the lyrics “…and the hills were dirty blonde and the song of nervous birds dry season coming on everything is on the verge…” But then who could dislike the idea of belting out “Cmon! and get your drunk ass up...” as in the title track Girls Need Attention? Not satisfied with the common fare, Mr. Julian includes the flirty number “Georgie” and the slyly clever “Stained Glass.”
Girls Need Attention is smart, brave and brilliantly worked. Kudos go to producer Lee Alexander for putting a fine polish on Girls Need Attention and to Mr. Julian for putting some genuine humor and poetry back into the singer/songwriter recording.
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