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Greetings from the Side

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Album Review

Greetings From the Side marked the emergence of a remarkable songwriting talent. Gary Jules arrived on this debut fully formed, an insightful lyricist whose words were accompanied by some of the most sad-eyed, exquisite melodies to come out of the decade. In that respect, the album sporadically recalls the finest soft rockers of the early '70s — no surprise there, since Jules was raised on the era's AM radio staples. He particularly shares a kinship with Paul Simon. Like Simon, Jules has a knack for drawing out the smallest but most compellingly human aspects of his subjects in sketches of uncanny clarity, whether they are complex third-person narratives ("Barstool," "Jeremiah Weed") or introspective examinations. Both artists also write songs with hushed, pensive exteriors that, nevertheless, often belie heart-shattering and hard-learned truths. But these songs unquestionably arise out of a tougher, more cynical age. Jules' soulful, soft-gravel vocals provide his musings with an almost wounded depth. Many of Greetings' songs are lived-in, even scarred, but haven't given up on finding happiness despite all the evidence to the contrary. A displaced, restless mood runs through the music like a thread, an attribute the artist shares with the Counting Crows, which he recalls on "Bluefish" and the beautifully ruminative "Heroes & Heroin." The songs capture individuals who want to change, or at least find something to hold onto. And even when they betray romantic yearnings, they are romantic in the most unflinchingly honest way. Michael Andrews provides a minimalistic but wholly sympathetic and organic production. He mostly allows the songs to do their own selling via pretty acoustic guitars and hazy, sun-fried drums. But the woozy slide guitar passes that he insinuates into the mix also emphasize the music's distinctly southern Californian ambience. There are brief moments when Jules doesn't seem to inhabit his songs quite as fully or that don't seem to cut as close to the bone, perhaps because several compositions date back nearly a decade. Regardless, it is a gorgeous, touching work, one of those albums that is waiting for — and wholly deserves — rediscovery.


Born: 1969 in San Diego, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

With 1998's Greetings from the Side, Gary Jules emerged as one of the most gifted songwriting talents to surface during the decade. The album was ultimately sunk by poor record label handling and, as a result, sadly neglected by an unknowing public. It would be three years before he resurfaced with the independently released Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets, an album that was even more stunning and advanced on all the promises of the first. San Diego native Gary Jules Aguirre -- professionally shortened...
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Greetings from the Side, Gary Jules
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