Julian Coryell

Rock Star

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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran

Inspired by Miles Davis, a friend and colleague of his legendary jazz guitarist father, Larry Coryell, who once told him, "jazz is easy, creating fresh pop music is hard," singer/songwriter Julian Coryell has searched around for the perfect niche and has finally hit paydirt with United Musicians, a cooperative label headed by Aimee Mann and Michael Penn. None of the jazz fusion he tried in an early attempt to follow in Larry's footsteps is apparent here on this eclectic mix of trippy pop, midtempo rockers, and unusual but compelling vocal harmony experiments like "Living in L.A." The diversity is one of the reasons Coryell has probably confounded major labels, but that's to the gain of the fan of independent-minded pop/rockers who just follow their own muse in many directions. Coryell sums up his defiant stance best in the edgy symphonic rocker "Rock Star," addressed to a partner who expected something different. The next song is the gentle voice-and-guitar folk piece "You Are Not Glass," on which Coryell's voice has a transparent quality. This sort of flip-flop between true rock and dreamy old-school folk continues throughout, with tunes like "Did You See the Sun?" beautifully combining his falsetto with guitar grit. There are also some intriguing voice-and-piano pieces like the murky, dreamlike "U Don't Know How I Feel Right Now," and "Asshole" is a refreshing reminder that Coryell doesn't take himself too seriously. Coryell scores megapoints for not caving into the pigeonhole mentality and instead finding his own way of being a rock star.

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