Jewel, Goodbye Alice in Wonderland

by Kathleen C. Fennessy

The word “confessional” is frequently applied to folk of all stripes, including folk-rock and folk-pop, which is where Jewel comes in. Even within the bounds of folk, however, her music is more nakedly confessional than most. (Too nakedly, some have carped.) Along with a coterie of Nashville pros, she began her latest musical journey by laying down another introspective song cycle in the vein of 1995’s Pieces of You.

Dissatisfied with the results, the Texas-based artist scrapped that effort and re-recorded with Rob Cavallo (Green Day). This lends her sixth album the expected rock edge, but Jewel hasn’t changed her spots. If anything, she sounds more like, well, Jewel than she did on dance-oriented departure 0304. She’s still pop star (“Fragile Heart”), sensitive folkie (“Long Slow Slide”), and scrappy country gal (“Stephenville, TX”). Her Joni Mitchell-esque soprano soars as high as ever, with more of a sardonic Dylan chaser than before.

What’s changed is that maturity has granted Jewel, now in her early 30s, greater perspective–“Growing up is not an absence of dreaming,” she states in the title track–and a sense of humor missing from her more earnest early work. On “Satellite,” for instance, written when she was 18, but revamped since, she notes that “the Pope,” “rock and roll,” “Valium,” even “Miss Cleo” can’t fix her broken heart. In her statement about the album, Jewel claims that, after years of ups and downs, she’s “not broken, just more myself.”

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