Jules Shear

The Third Party

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Jules Shear joined up with the Church's Marty Willson-Piper in Sweden for Third Party, a stark, bare-bones acoustic album. Stripped of all of the excessive production that sometimes marred earlier work, Shear's songs are allowed to come to the forefront, as they should. Shear's voice, phrasing, and the minimalistic, often folky arrangements led to Dylan comparisons, but the album really features Shear's own clever craftsmanship; the back-to-basics approach is certainly a welcome one (as are the guitar chords included in the booklet). Shear had long before proven his strong melodic sense, but with Third Party, his clever wordplay and interesting turns of phrase were allowed the proper platform. Though the album failed commercially, the approach undoubtedly led to Shear's hosting the first several MTV Unplugged episodes, which gave him more exposure than ever before.

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