Julian Lennon: Jude review – echoes of polished pop fail to compensate for leaden production | Pop and rock

In 1985, when Julian Lennon was at his commercial peak, Spitting Image cruelly but accurately mocked his style: “Imagine I’m my father/ It isn’t hard to do/ I sing exactly like him/ And I look just like him too.” Four decades on, he’s hardly making much more of an effort to distance himself from the obvious comparisons by calling his first album of early 70s-esque Johnisms in 11 years Jude.

Several of the 11 songs here begin promisingly, with a pleasing motif picked out on piano (Love Never Dies) or acoustic guitar (Not One Night), but any enjoyment is then crushed beneath the weight of an overbearing, leaden, soft-rock production. Some tracks date back to the 1990s but weren’t released at the time; those familiar with Occam’s razor can probably figure out why.

There are occasional echoes of Tears for Fears’ polished pop or Take That’s ballads but not enough lightness of touch, and listening to the plodding likes of Breathe just feels like hard work. Respite comes with the atmospheric closer, Gaia – a nicely understated duet with Elissa Lauper that also features the Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan – but it doesn’t make up for the pedestrianism elsewhere.

The headline of this article was amended on 11 September 2022 to better reflect the review itself.