Girls Need Attention, Richard Julian’s new album, is a musical atonement: vulnerable, honest, and painfully direct as it chronicles a break-up. “I don’t know how to not write confessionally… the songs always feel like an shopping cart that veers in that direction no matter which way I try to steer it.” This, Julian’s Compass Records debut and first album since 2008’s Sunday Morning in Saturday’s Shoes, still serves up the occasional helping of his razor-sharp wit but ultimately reveals the singer at his most emotionally-charged. “This is by far the most raw I’ve ever been on an album,” says Julian, and his uncloaked narration is served well by lean and elegant arrangements.
Recorded at Norah Jones’s home studio, Girls Need Attention features stellar accompaniment from Nels Cline (Wilco) on guitar, Jolie Holland on box fiddle, and Sasha Dobson on vocals. The backing band, who was “essentially paid in fine tequila”, says Julian, a self-professed food and drink aficionado, contains such luminaries as Lee Alexander (who also produced the album), Tim Luntzel (bass) and Dan Rieser (drums), and is sparingly augmented throughout with keyboards (Dred Scott), baritone guitar, (Steve Elliot) french horn (Louis Schwadron), tuba (Marcus Rojas), and bass clarinet (Doug Wieselman). This star-studded cast is nothing out of the ordinary for Julian, who has spent the last few years touring with the likes of Norah Jones, Bonnie Raitt, Josh Ritter, Roseanne Cash, and Suzanne Vega.
Girls Need Attention boasts many gems, including the Holland backed title track, which displays Julian’s gift for combining humor with pathos: “C’mon! And get your drunk ass up! / Don’t you know? / Girls need attention!” The gently rollicking yet heart-wrenching, “Lost In Your Light” is easily the most straight-ahead recording Julian has offered to date, and “Stained Glass,” another standout, highlights a swaggering and punchy vocal delivery about a memorable encounter with an ex and the hope for a second round. The scorching “Words” and the languid soundscape, “Window” prove memorable for the outstanding guitar and vocal work. The Randy Newman cover, “Wedding in Cherokee County”, is a remake that brilliantly displays where Julian and Newman musically converge and where they stylistically part.
Richard Julian began releasing albums in 1997 on Billy Lehman’s (son of the infamous Wall Street trader Ivan Boesky) label, Blackbird. During that time he recorded Richard Julian and Smash Palace and toured Europe with Suzanne Vega. When Blackbird folded, the label-less (and broke) artist made his third record, Good Life, with Brad Jones (Smash Palace), who let Julian record in his home. Julian then released and promoted Good Life on his own to rave reviews and was invited to open Norah Jones’ "Come Away With Me” tour in North America. Slow New York, his EMI/Manhattan debut, cemented Julian’s reputation as one of the keenest voices in songwriting and, in 2008, was followed by the critically-acclaimed Sunday Morning In Saturday’s Shoes also on Manhattan. Richard Julian lives in Brooklyn, plays Santa Cruz guitars, and loves good tequila. He is currently filming and starring in an upcoming television and web series about the best food, drink and music finds in NYC.