The last in love.

Jules Shear, like Boo Hewerdine, deserves a wider
audience. He’s been singing and writing away on the melancholy, intelligent
fringes of American pop the past 20 years. Today I am not feeling well, and
, his album of duets with artists better known than him, reminds me
that tiredness and hopelessness can be transformed into sparsely-arranged

The Last in Love, the first
song on the album, is a duet with Paula Cole. Plangent woodwinds, a guitar
tweaking out a melody with a forgetful, fitful grace. “So if you see something
funny the next time your eyes meet mine/that’s because I’m first this

Restaurant Scene plays out over
quiet conga drums:

“Everybody pays

when you’re in

You just have to shake

your bag of coins for

You get us the best

in this

So once more you can tell

what I really

Freedy Johnston, yet another of
the artists I hoard, sings with Jules on Revenge. Freedy is always the next big
thing, and he never quite makes it. “Another singer-songwriter for the critics
to champion and the masses to disregard,” says Jeff Bateman on Hear,
hear. When Roach saw Freedy live I wanted to strangle her. And he did Wichita
Lineman, too. I believe he’s best known for Bad Reputation, off the album This
Perfect World (one of the best albums I own, of any genre) – that single
received airplay on NU 107, at least. This Perfect World came out in 1994. Can
You Fly, his 1992 album featuring The Mortician’s Daughter, is a masterpiece.
And I do not use that word lightly.

Let’s go back to Boo. Anyone who wants to get on
my good side will get me “A Live One,” “Anon,” and “Thanksgiving,” not to
mention the entire back catalog of The Bible, for Christmas. Or New Year. Or my
birthday. Or on the anniversary of the first lipstick I ever bought. Find a
reason, dammit. (And now at this point I will pause and take a deep

Okay, my sanity is back in its
usual place.