Title - 'Slower'
Artist - Jules Shear
For those unaware, Slower (out November 13th, 2020 via Funzalo Records) is Jules Shear unfettered, transparent and raw, forging ahead as only he can, with lyrics that engage the mind and melodies that touch the heart, which he’s been doing since his very first solo album, 1983’s Watch Dog (produced by Todd Rundgren, and the first time Jules remembers being in Woodstock, now his permanent residence).
Indeed, that record included both Jules’ original versions of 'All Through the Night' and 'Whispering Your Name,' which became hits for Cyndi Lauper and Alison Moyet, respectively.
With no worries about radio airplay, streams, sales or even being cool — though he is, effortlessly — Shear has been creatively liberated to pursue his very idiosyncratic muse on Slower, which may describe his current lifestyle, but certainly not his prolific writing pace.
1. 'Me, Myself and I'
2. 'Why Is She Still Here'
3. 'She's Dancing'
5. 'Abandoned Chapel'
7. 'Nothing New Under The Sun'
8. 'The Other Day'
9. 'She Smiles'
Opening with the impassioned, lonesome ballad touting the joys of eating 'Sugar All Day' (which also features a delicious harmonica solo from guest, and fellow Woodstock denizen John Sebastian), Slower continues on with Shear trying to enjoy the present moments between past and future, yesterday and tomorrow, living and dying, all within the slow foot-tapper 'Between Hell and Hello.'
That's followed by the philosophical, tongue-in-cheek first single, 'Smart,' set for digital release on October 16th, 2020, which in turn is backed by Shear, revealing his rich vocal tapestry, singing the praises of companionship within 'It Came Down From Heaven,' the extolled melancholy of 'It's Love,' and then we get his ponderings on the onset of Autumn within the soft, beautiful ballad 'Feels Like Fall.'
Next up is the jazzy piano imbued new standard 'Today Like Tomorrow,' which in turn is backed by the ornate piano bed storytelling of 'One Pretty Please,' with his most personal work to date rounding out with the quietly organic build of 'Until Now,' closing on the elegantly delicate 'Call It Love.'
Much in the vein of his previous effort, One More Crooked Dance, Slower is yet another homegrown effort, again recorded at producer Lee Danziger’s home studio in Woodstock, a
10-minute ride from Shear’s home.
The end result works as a whole, a throwback to the Great American Songbook and Tin Pan Alley, late-night Sinatra torch ballads for swinging lovers, as well as Leonard Cohen/Dylan-esque folk dirges, laced with a none-too-self-serious gravitas and a whiff of imminent mortality.
“These songs all started with words, no music, and then I try to figure out what kind of song they sound like,” says Shear about making the new album. “I’ll take it from there and start messing with it, filling in the gaps with melody.”
These days, Shear’s songwriting process is similar to a jigsaw puzzle, juggling lyrics until they click into place, then creating music to “fill in the gaps.”
An old-school auteur in an age of multi-writer songs, Jules has tried to collaborate with others, but finds “I don’t think it ever turns out too good.”
'I hope people discover these new songs and cover them,” says Jules. “That’s a really nice way to make a living.”
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