Richard Julian is kind of a hidden treasure, respected within his field but still relatively unknown. His previous album, 2005’s Slow New York, received praise from Randy Newman and Norah Jones. His profile was further upped by his involvement with Jones’s side project, the Little Willies, but Julian continued to fly under the radar. Sunday Morning in Saturday’s Shoes might not do much to raise his profile on the pop charts, but its eleven songs cement Julian’s reputation as a worthy successor to Newman’s mantle as the thinking man’s singer-songwriter.
The songs on Sunday Morning in Saturday’s Shoes are understated to the point of being initially forgettable. They don’t immediately demand our full attention. Julian delivers his lyrics in a quiet, mellow voice over a clean acoustic guitar and sparse instrumentation. He doesn’t raise his voice or offer soaring arrangements. The songs lope along at their own pace.
Something funny happens, though, on the second or third time through the album. The wit on “God III” hits its mark. We can place the Dylanesque musical phrasing on “The Man in Hole” and the bluesy wordplay on “World Keeps On” and “Spring Is Just Around the Corner.” Julian even tries his hand at Randy Newman territory, offering a jauntily acidic view of our country’s junk culture on “Syndicated.”
The album is filled with songs that develop slowly but hold up to multiple listens. Though some might say Julian could be famous if he found the right songs, Sunday Morning in Saturday’s Shoes proves again and again that he already has them.