One More Crooked Dance feels like a deliberate and concerted effort to further show the world the vast scope of who Jules Shear is. Shear didn’t have to wander far from his Woodstock, NY home to wrangle some local artists and friends to join him on this journey. The album includes the talents of Pepe on piano, touring partner Molly Farley lends some vocals and the fabled John Sebastian joins in on harp.
With just piano, Shear’s beautiful, haunting vocals and the occasional harmonica interspersed, 13 intimate songs on One More Crooked Dance are full of renewed purpose and energy, a record made up of bruised and beaten characters who refuse to give up. That’s something captured perfectly by the emotional vocal of “Pain Killer” repeated over and over again in “Tangled Up In Blue” and “The Hunter and the Hunted,” to name a few. As the songs surge towards their climax, that struggle in them or, rather, the fight against that struggle, feels real.
Shear has been a staple for 40-plus years as a songwriter and artist, starting with the Funky Kings, moving on to Jules and the Polar Bears and an impressive solo career, he has penned hits like Cyndi Lauper’s “All Through the Night,” The Bangles “If She Knew What She Wants” and his own “Steady,” a co-write with Lauper. Not to mention catalog mainstays such as Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers’ “If We Never Meet Again”, Til Tuesday’s “Lucky” and Alison Moyer’s “Whispering Your Name.” And let’s not forget he was the host (and co-creator) of the influential MTV Unplugged.
In his entire career Shear has never released an album without guitar, bass and drums, so One More Crooked Dance is a first for him and it works because the songs on the album are personal and filled with passion.