Julian Lennon

Photograph Smile

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Despite its moments of inspired songcraft, Julian Lennon's fourth album, Help Yourself, didn't find an audience in 1991. Shortly after its release, Lennon parted ways with Atlantic and entered a period of seclusion. By the time he returned to recording in 1998, the Beatles had already undergone one of their periodic "hip" phases, thanks to the hook-crazy Brit-pop crew. In many ways, bands like Oasis and Blur gave Lennon the go-ahead to return to the Beatlesque songcraft of his debut, Valotte, and that's exactly what he does on Photograph Smile, his first album in seven years. Much of the record is devoted to piano ballads similar to his big hit, "Valotte," with a couple of guitar pop numbers thrown in for good measure. There's not much range on the album, but all the music is well crafted and melodic -- the kind of music that would receive greater praise if it weren't made by the son of a Beatle.

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