Album Review: Jules Shear | One More Crooked Dance | Music | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

Jules Shear One More Crooked Dance
(2017, Funzalo)

It’s fair to say that no Jules Shear album has ever sounded like One More Crooked Dance. No guitar, no bass, no percussion—just Shear’s naked voice in all its rich, emotive glory, accompanied by gorgeous, New Orleans-inflected piano courtesy of Woodstock’s mononymous Pepe, accented with angelic harmony vocals by Molly Farley and occasional mouth harp by John Sebastian. This all-Woodstock effort, recorded at Chirp Studios and coproduced by Shear and Lee Danziger, is deceptively modest in its aesthetic, which variously recalls Marc Cohn and Lauro Nyro—as if Shear laid down these baker’s dozen incisive, soulful love (and hate) songs as demo tracks for other artists to record and then decided—a la Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska—to release them on his own.

I’m not saying he did this, but it sounds like it in the best possible way: The end result is a shockingly intimate collection of raw tracks that showcase Shear’s gifts as a melody writer and lyricist. He’s firing on all four cylinders here. “Don’t Remember” revisits a past relationship with sardonic bitterness and a hint of Professor Longhair on piano; the haunting “Painkiller” paints a fever dream; the brighter “Be with You” nods to the Band’s “The Weight” in its descending chord progression and could be a pop hit. Best line on an album chockful of many such brilliant couplets: “I tripped over your feet but it wasn’t complete ’til I tripped over your mind.”


About The Author

Seth Rogovoy

Seth Rogovoy is the author of Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet, The Essential Klezmer, and the forthcoming Within You Without You: Listening to George Harrison. Seth’s writing on cultural topics is also featured in his Substack newsletter, Everything Is Broken.zx
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