Hit-maker's deft debut available outside US for the first time

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Gary Jules – Greetings From The Side

It’s almost a pity that recent No 1 hit “Mad World” associated Gary Jules forever with such a freak anthem, as critics will now be forever sniffy about this warm, consummate singer/songwriter. Hot on the cash-in heels of new album Trading Snakeoil For Wolftickets comes this re-release of his debut from 1998, another collaboration with Donnie Darko soundtrack producer Michael Andrews. With Counting Crows’ engineer on board, it’s less tingly than the more recent effort, playing safer, but Jules has a real talent for fusing his tales of losers, boozers, beauty and violence to his gently weary, rich coffee voice. “Barstool”?present on both albums?refuses to pass judgement on the character claiming, “Love is for sissies, it’s whiskey that makes you a man.” Other vignettes about drug doom are keen-eyed, not vulgar. Sapphire-blue.