Our Take: Sultry Tales of Love on Julian Allen’s Debut ‘Could U Be’

Julian Allen © John Hanson
Julian Allen © John Hanson

Adrian's Take

With his stellar vocal work, Julian Allen and debut album ‘Could U Be’ establishes his sonic footprint in the R&B and soul music scene with no signs of stopping.

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When it comes to love, very little makes sense. What lengths have one gone through – or better yet – not gone through to express it, secure it, or gain it back? It’s frightening how easy it is to become a thrall to love, going beyond ourselves for the sake of its presence. Julian Allen puts himself in this dilemma as he crafts a series of stories that allow listeners to visualize and observe the power that love has on one – for better or for worse.

Self-released via Kickstarter in March 2018, Could U Be is Chicago-based Julian Allen’s first venture into the music world as a frontman, but he’s been working behind the scenes for quite some time. Allen has been in involved in various projects from some of the members of the band Vulfpeck, most notably as a drummer for Theo Katzman during his tours. Vulfpeck is known for their heavy funk sound, and although some of those melodies are shared within Allen’s own music, his sound is entirely his own.

Listen: ‘Could U Be’ – Julian Allen

With his youthful whimsy and charm, his voice carries a weight throughout the album that is sorrowful, beautiful, and full of soul. The talent he possesses is immense, and couple that with the poignant lyrics in each track and the makings of an R&B classic is born.

Love hold the door open
This doesn’t need to be a matter of pride
This time

On the opening track, “Moonglo,” the listener is immediately introduced to the gorgeous vocals of Allen as he begins the journey of walking through the ups and downs of love. Allen employs a steady drumbeat that acts as the support for the track, slowly building up as the song and story progress. When combined with the tick-tock plinking of keys, the tracks transforms into a silky soundscape that grabs the listener tightly, not letting go so easily.

Could U Be - Julian Allen
Could U Be – Julian Allen

The spine of the album is showcased through the track “Up At Night,” a somber tale of two love-struck souls doing everything in their power to make it work, but ultimately failing.

Don’t you cry
We’ve known we tried
To read between the lines
And all we do is fight
These days

Almost as if it’s a whisper, the vocals are hushed and quiet, giving the impression that our narrator is truly up at night, talking ever so softly to his love in an attempt to sort it all out. Accompanying the vocals are an equally soft snare beat and twinkly keys. The listener is given a perfect illustration of this track, joining the two souls in this dimly lit night under the stars, but, unfortunately, not under romantic circumstances.

The nuanced soul sounds take a turn into a different territory with the closing track “Shine.” A funky bass line sets the mood and the delicate soul beats are reinvented into a slick funk and soul fusion that washes over the listener. One would find themselves closing their eyes, swaying and bopping back and forth as the melody carries them into a dream-like space of their own creation. And with the tales of heartache that have come before, this closing track brings a much enjoyed positive vibe to send the listener off to.

Allen has created his sonic footprint right at the start, and from here on out he can only rise. His smooth vocals are a total standout, and the incorporation of subdued yet powerful drum melodies and funky bass lines have created an outstanding debut record. For any future R&B cravings we might have, us at Atwood Magazine have found the artist to satiate it.

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:: stream/purchase Could U Be here ::

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Could U Be - Julian Allen

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📸 © John Hanson

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