Picks and Pans Review: Photograph Smile

updated 02/22/1999 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/22/1999 01:00AM

Julian Lennon (Fuel 2000/Universal)

Full of melodies as sweet as the performer's baby photo on the cover, Julian's first album in eight years is a return to the inoffensive sounds of Valotte. That 1984 debut became a hit, thanks in part to a catchy single, "Too Late for Goodbyes," as well as to the son's close resemblance, in look and vocal style, to his late father, John. Julian still sounds like a chip off the old block, albeit a relatively lightweight, sentimental one. Most of these 14 tunes, all composed (or cowritten) and sung by Julian, who also contributes guitar, sitar and keyboard work, are watery, vaguely worded love ballads ("We tear ourselves apart/ And leave a broken heart"). Born in Liverpool during the first spring of Beatlemania in 1963, Julian pays homage to those times with the nicely Beatles-esque "I Don't Wanna Know." And much of "Way to Your Heart" is an almost direct lift from a familiar, older tune. But then, Julian has some claim of ownership to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." As a small boy he spoke the title phrase that his father immortalized.

Bottom Line: Lennon-lite, with strings

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