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Lonely Girl

Julie London

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Album Review

Liberty Records was pleasantly surprised when Julie London's debut album was such a big hit. Julie Is Her Name did contain the hit single "Cry Me a River," but each featured mellow jazz guitar and bass backing — which was considered commercial suicide in 1955. So, instead of changing direction and recording the follow-up Lonely Girl with a full orchestra, Liberty wisely allowed London to strip the accompaniment down even more on the album by dropping the backing down to one instrument. Lone guitarist Al Viola plays gentle Spanish-tinged acoustic behind the hushed vocalist, and it suits London perfectly. While the singer was often chided for her beauty and lack of range, she deftly navigates these ballads without any rhythmic underpinnings to fall back on. London's intense focus on phrasing and lyrics recalls Chet Baker's equally telescopic approach. So while most of the album contains the usual midnight standards, London sings them in her own way. The title track is the one unfamiliar tune here, and it's a real gem, penned by Bobby Troup (he was London's producer, paramour, and future husband). The low-key Lonely Girl beat the sophomore slump and initially did almost as well in the charts as Julie Is Her Name. Instead of stripping away the guitar in order to make London's next release be the first a cappella torch album, Troup crafted Calendar Girl, a big-budget orchestral affair that was more in keeping with the thematic pop albums released at the time.

Biography

Born: 26 September 1926 in Santa Rosa, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

A sultry, smoky-voiced master of understatement, Julie London enjoyed considerable popularity during the cool era of the 1950s. London never had the range of Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan, but often used restraint, softness, and subtlety to maximum advantage. An actress as well as a singer, London played with heavyweights like Gregory Peck and Rock Hudson in various films, and was married to Jack Webb of Dragnet fame for seven years before marrying songwriter Bobby Troup ("Route 66"). London performed...
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