Julian Lennon’s sixth studio album, his first since 1998, is called Everything Changes. Originally released on a limited basis in 2011, this re-release adds two bonus songs to the 12 that made up its initial pressing: “Someday” and “In Between.”
It might have been called “Entropy,” to reflect a belief in disorder or uncertainty or degradation in our personal and universal existence. Lennon is concerned about many things here. He sings that, “Nothing stays the same/When you’re lost and when you’re broken.” Interestingly, his views on the hazards of life and living are much like those expressed by James McCartney on his Me album. (Is there something about being the son of a Beatle?)
Fortunately, matters are positively resolved before the end of this 65-minute plus collection of music. Lennon concludes that, “There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.” He also reminds us that, “We’re all in it together/One love now and forever.”
Here’s a look at the songs on Everything Changes, now available for downloading at iTunes and elsewhere, as well as on CD.
From the opening notes of the title song, “Everything Changes,” this sounds like a song from another Beatles-influenced musician, something that would prove to be true of other songs on this 14-track album.
On the song “Someday,” Julian joins with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith to ask an interesting question: “How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?” Wait, haven’t we heard this before? Yes, Lennon borrows a line from a Beatles song in a tune built around a Magical Mystery Tour-style sound. Think of “I Am the Walrus” melded with “Blue Jay Way.” Having Lennon and Tyler sing together seems like something that wouldn’t work, but oddly enough it does and it works quite well.
While “Someday” is an almost joyful tune, Lennon notes that when it comes to life, “It’s just about holding on.”
“Lookin’ 4 Luv” is like a lost ’70s tune by the Beatles or Badfinger. It’s alternatively sad and hopeful: “Why do you look the other way/When I’m trying to see your soul?… I’m searching in all the wrong places/I’m down but I’m fighting back again.”
“Hold On” is a piano-based tune on which Lennon sounds frighteningly like John Lennon: “Shall I give my heart to break again/Can it be real that I have lost a friend?” The recording includes a partially distorted vocal track, a technique of which John was fond. “Touch the Sky” is a composition that may have been inspired by the 2009 death of Lucy O’Donnell (the inspiration for John’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”): “We all want to touch the sky/We all ask the question why/We all need a helping hand.” Lennon’s wishes in the song are in accord with the Beatles’ values: “I just hope and pray peace will come one day.”
“Invisible” is Beatles-esque: “Remember love forgotten … I know that love surrounds you/It’s invisible.” Had this been recorded by the Beatles, George Harrison would likely have sung it.
“Just for You” is a track that sounds in virtually every respect, save for the absence of an organ, like a Brent Bourgeois (“I Don’t Mind at All”) recording. Lennon sounds like Bourgeois in his phrasing and vocal inflections. There’s a soft opening, broken by a strong bridge with angst-filled and religious-inspired lyrics: “You know I’ve talked to the Virgin Mary/Prayed to the Holy Ghost/Hung with the Bodhisattva for the one I love the most/And I’ve danced with the fallen angels/Sold my soul to the shadow mind just for you.”
It turns out that there are multiple tunes in the Bourgeois style on Everything Changes. It’s best left to the listener to determine the actual number.
“Always” is a surprise with its Pink Floyd instrumentation, while “Disconnected” could have fit on either Magical Mystery Tour or Revolver: “Cradle life and love and let it flow.” “Never Let You Go” is another song in the style of Revolver.
“Guess It Was Me” is a nice ethereal track that calls to mind Crowded House. “In Between” is a completely original song in which Lennon laments that, “Reality was only in my mind.” (This might be his “Eleanor Rigby.”)
Those who download this album might be surprised to find that the two closing songs are listed as “Track 13” and “Track 14.” Not to spoil the surprise, but track 13 is “Don’t Wake Me Up,” on which Lennon sings in the style of Harry Nilsson. Track 14 is “Beautiful,” a very moving and heartfelt tribute to Julian’s father: “The feeling still remains/Though you’re on a different plane.” It’s a song of resolution and perhaps redemption.
Lennon has said that the songs on this release have “a dreamy, floaty quality.” This highlights one of the album’s flaws, a sameness to the ballads which can become wearisome. If only he had skipped one or more of the spacey songs and included a flat-out rocker like “Day Tripper,” “Helter Skelter,” or “Johnny B. Goode.” These are songs he’s performed gleefully on stage.
While Everything Changes falls short of being essential, it’s almost an excellent album. Longtime Beatles fans who receive an iTunes gift card for Christmas might consider adding Julian Lennon’s Everything Changes to their collection. Lennon is the son of a late musical legend. He shines on in his own way.