Friday, August 18, 2017

Jules Shear Healing Bones 1994

Jules Shear has knocked around modern rock for the last 40 years or so, and had a modicum of chart success with songs he wrote for The Bangles and Cyndi Lauper in the eighties. I can't recall how I became interested, but I ended up with three Jules Shear CDs: 1992's The Great Puzzle, 2000's Allow Me, and this one from 1994, sandwiched between those two. I like all three of them, and The Great Puzzle is almost as perfect as Healing Bones.

Healing Bones has everything going for it. Shear is a uniquely qualified songwriter, and his lyrical skill is always impressive. I can't say enough what a smart lyricist Shear is. From Listen To What She Says:
When I saw the envelope
I could tell the source
How seriously can you take a letter 
Signed off "carnally yours"
But as I read those words 
I could hear the voice
And when she could hurt or avoid it
I recognized the choice

All of the songs on the record are strong, mostly mid-tempo and up-tempo rock. The ballads Never Again Or Forever and By And By are slower, but no less compelling. Shear's melodic efforts equal his deft lyrics on this CD. The songs are just plain perfect adult rock. Hooks galore.

Shear has an interesting voice with a touch of nasal and a strong high register. He also has a very slightly flat tone at the end of phrases that plays quite well with his minor key angst.

But I said it had everything going for it. And that brings us to the band. Veteran drummer Jerry Marotta and bassist extraordinaire Tony Levin anchor the rhythm, while Eliot Easton (ex of Cars) plays lead guitar and Rod Argent brings his keyboards as well as co-produces with Peter Van Hooke. They all show up on other Shear CDs, but they converge only here. It's a magic moment, and it gives Jules Shear plenty of support on which to hang these study rockers and emotionally charged lyrics.

There's lots of comparisons that sort-of work (Tom Petty, Freedy Johnson) but none of them are just right. Shear is his own guy most certainly, and I suspect this is one of his best. A compelling singer-songwriter rocks it.

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