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Rising Stars [Issue #18]
Richard Julian: New York Seen Slowly
By Lynne Bronstein
Slow New York (CD Manhattan)

Richard Julian says his new album, Slow New York, isn’t so much about New York, but a state of mind.” However, his songs contain imagery drawn from the Manhattan landscape. A New Yorker might recognize the reference to the yellow boundary lines on subway platforms that symbolize risk in the song, “Don’t Wait Up.”

“I’m always writing subway imagery,” Julian notes. “There’s something about standing down there, waiting for that light to show up in the dark.”
Julian’s songs deal with relationships that are in the dark or on the edge, set in a world of “Cold Grey Sky” (another song title), unpaid bills, and frustrating long lines. There’s a sly humor in the song “End of The Line,” wherein Julian laments the increasing rudeness of customer service. He notes: “When I’ve been performing that song lately, I’ve been dedicating it to ‘the company of the week.’’’

Richard Julian grew up in Delaware, began writing songs at age 14, nixed college in favor of the music business, and played for a year in Las Vegas lounge bands. But he sensed that Vegas was not his scene and he split for the Big Apple. “When I came to Manhattan, I was like Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy,” he jokes. “I didn’t have any music business connections [in New York].”

He lived the life that inspired his songs: low-paying jobs, observations of local characters, and gigs in small clubs. He made two albums for the indie Blackbird label, but after it folded he found himself at a career impasse. It was the early ‘90s, singer-songwriters weren’t “in,” and Julian had to take a day job selling real estate.

So he stepped into the “yellow line” by using his credit card to fund a DIY album, Good Life, which he recorded on vacation time from his day job. When Good Life got good coverage in the New York press and impressive Web sales, Julian was able to return to music full-time.

Now Richard Julian is garnering praise from people he has always looked up to. Norah Jones invited him on her 2002 tour and co-produced two tracks on Slow New York. He was delighted to receive an accolade from Randy Newman. Does he think they share a sensibility?  “I know from the few times I’ve talked to him, he’s really into harmony. Maybe he likes some of the stuff I come up with.”

Slow New York

New York Seen Slowly Richard Julian Slow New York

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