★★★★ Jake Shears ABSOLUTE/FREIDA JEAN. CD/DL/LP Scissor Sisters’ estranged frontman reveals all in his solo debut.
After several fallow years living in LA and breaking up with his partner, Jake Shears relocated to New Orleans and now returns with renewed energy. Just as well, because Scissor Sisters’ last album, Magic Hour (2012), sounded like music made by committee. Shears heads in a new bluesy direction on a debut recorded with a live band (including members of My Morning Jacket) in Louisville, Kentucky, and produced by Kevin Ratterman (MMJ and Ray LaMontagne), the king of smoky yet spacey sounds. There are nods to Scissor Sisters with some honky-tonk disco and references to the demi-monde. But there are also extraordinary tracks of looped beats and grainy heartbreak. The Bruiser, for instance, and Everything I’ll Ever Need, where Shears sings, vulnerable and lost: “I sleep with pillows piled around me like a cloud.” What a graceful image. Bless.