Jules Shear: Allow Me
Master pop craftsman Jules Shear is also one of the genre's great humanists: His
clear-eyed takes on love, regret, and failure can be tenderhearted or scathing, but are never less than
compassionate. Allow Me, his first recording for Rounder Records, finds Shear back in solo mode after 1998's
collection of duets, Between Us. Like that record, Allow Me is a collection of love songs, but the mood here is
comparatively optimistic. Shear's melodies are as catchy and his lyrics as sharp as ever, especially on "Nothing Is
New" and the opener, "Hard Enough," one of Shear's patented wake-up calls to a troubled friend; he's also in
fine, relaxed vocal form. But Allow Me is not Shear's strongest overall effort: "Deep" and "Love With You" are
unexceptional bar-band rockers, and the latter features flashy backing vocals that are singularly at odds with his
down-to-earth persona. The album is also less cohesive than some of his other works, and some songs are
obscured by clunky arrangements. Still, even lesser Jules Shear is a gift to fans of intelligent pop.
Jules Shear and the late Band/Hawks member Stan Szelest co-wrote the Richard Manuel tribute "Too Soon Gone" on The Band's "come-back" album Jericho. Shear's own version of "Too Soon Gone" can be found here as the last track on Allow Me. Shear also cut a few studio demos with The Band in the early '90s. His critically acclaimed 1994 album Healing Bones contains two songs written by Rick Danko and Shear, the title track and "Never Again or Forever", the latter first appeared on Shear's 1991 album Unplug This.
Jules Shear - Allow Me - 2000 - Rounder/ Zoe 431010