Gary Jules: Bird

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Gary Jules: <em>Bird</em>

Jules delights with imagery, disappoints with cliche

Listening to Bird, Gary Jules' new collaboration with The Group Rules, it's obvious the singer-songwriter's acquired folk status has gone to his head a little bit. Jules' panoramic imagery of the "old west" in his latest albumis breathtaking but overly-glamorized.

Jules has always had a knack for mixing urban and rural landscapes. In Trading Snakeoil for Wolf Tickets, "The Princess of Hollywood" ambled over steel-guitar licks and harmonica chords. In Bird, open back roads, cotton fields and snake charmers mingle unabashedly with "shiny new umbrellas" and "big jet airplanes" to a steady steel swing. It's a magical world, and with Jules' rose-colored glasses on, the journey is more than delightful.

water," "My father the sun" and "sister sunlight." Joan Baez and Bob Dylan could get away with these staples 30 years ago, but they sound trite coming from a non-icon like Jules, admittedly talented though he is.

then speed off in a frenzied sprint ("The Road Beside the Highway"). When "the soul of Joe Strummer" dances while "standing on the grave of James Earl Ray" to racing lap-steel chords, you just want to settle in and stay in Jules' imaginative world.

Listen to Gary Jules on his MySpace page.

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