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Album Review

While the 2008 album of Jules Shear's lengthy career isn't remarkable in the context of either the music scene of its time or Shear's own discography, it's solid enough straightforward singer/songwriter rock that has enough pop for mainstream tastes, but rocks considerably harder than most such efforts. The use of almost garage-like keyboards gives some of the material a pleasingly rough coating, and Shear's vocals — though probably too grainy and wavering to get on mainstream commercial radio — can sound like a fairly effective cross between Elvis Costello and Roger McGuinn. Not quite power pop, and too high-voltage for much of the singer/songwriter audiences, Shear nevertheless has the kind of attractive melodies, emphasis on thoughtful vocal harmonies, and sincere, occasionally playful lyricism valued by fans of both of those formats. Sometimes he comes on harder ("More") or softer ("You Might Show Up") than at others, but it's when he hits a midpoint between those levels that he's most satisfying, with "Thick Cut Grass" standing out for its slightly mysterious and eerie tune and lyrics.

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