Julian Daniell at Schubas 8/20/21

Despite working an eight hour shift that started at 6:30am Friday, I was excited to head out to Schubas for my first show there in well over two years. It was a day and date release show for Julian Daniell’s Only Words EP release featuring Thompson Springs, late addition Lillie Mae, and a headlining set by Daniell and his band. I had only heard one track off the EP, but it was enough to pique my interest.

I was introduced to Daniell before the show and he seems like a nice guy, humble and quiet. Just had a real brief chat about some upcoming shows in the area, but it was nice to get a sense of the person before seeing him perform. Heading back into Schubas was, itself, an enjoyable experience. They checked my vaccination card at the door, which brought me a sense of safety. I still kept my mask on except when actively drinking, which was the same as about a third of the crowd. Others went maskless the whole time, which I found odd since the city just started a mask mandate saying vaxxed and unvaxxed alike need to wear masks indoors, but whatever.

Only caught the last couple tunes by Thompson Springs, but they sounded great. Lillie Mae’s performance was really impressive and probably could’ve warranted a headlining slot any other night. It was my second time seeing her perform with her brother on guitar and sister on mandolin-such a crazy talented family!

Talking to Daniell’s publicist before the set started, he mentioned Randy Newman as an artist he heard a lot of in Julian’s music. Listening to the opening couple of songs, I could hear what he was talking about. Another name came to mind and I haven’t been able to shake it, and I don’t know exactly what it is-maybe the tone of his voice or his delivery-but he reminds me a little of George Harrison. Even listening to his EP now, I hear it. I mean, obviously The Beatles are a big influence on a lot of musicians, but this is very specifically one Beatle. Let me know if you hear it in the comments.

I didn’t expect such a large band to take the stage with him, but it made sense once he started playing. Two backup singers, a lead guitarist that absolutely shredded on a couple songs, drums, bass, and Julian bouncing back and forth between guitar and keyboard. The sound was tight so I would guess they’ve been playing together for a while. The spaces in songs where Juilan switched instruments were a good break for him to collect himself, as he seemed a little nervous at times. This being his big EP release show, I suppose that’s expected.

My favorite song from the evening is also my favorite from the EP, “I Want It All.” It’s got a great guitar tone and features Daniell at his introspective best. He doesn’t shy away from taking responsibility for his faults. Confessionals through music are pretty common, but when they’re well done, as on this track, they can be something really special.

Only Words is out now, and you can get it here. Julian will be back in Chicago on September 16th at Beat Kitchen with Andrew Duhon. Tickets here.

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