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'Til Tuesday: Art From a Broken Heart

RECORD RACK

November 20, 1988|CHRIS WILLMAN

***'TIL TUESDAY. "Everything's Different Now." Epic.

Delicate but feisty Aimee Mann has fashioned what may be the year's best breakup album. Nearly every song on this third effort from 'Til Tuesday is concerned with the sad aftermath of her romance with fellow singer/songwriter Jules Shear, a relationship we can garner she desperately wanted not to end. Not that one should read pure autobiography into pop craftsmanship, but with titles like "J for Jules," Mann is clearly wearing her heart on her sleeve--and she wears it well.

Unlike other artists of note this year who've released entire albums about getting dumped (the Smithereens, Melissa Etheridge), Mann never comes off as a bitter whiner. What comes through in these gentle but not too genteel pop songs is a profound sense of, above all, disappointment--as witnessed in the says-it-all closing song title, "How Can You Give Up on Love?"

Even though we don't have both sides of the story, Mann makes a strong, plaintive case for working on a relationship in lieu of what she sees as throwing in the towel too soon. Her viewpoint is self-absorbed, which goes with the territory, but it's also unusually self-analytical and mature for one so presumably wracked with pain--making for a lovely, insightful, occasionally heartbreaking piece of work.

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