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Album Review: “Perfectly Clear” by Jewel

June 8, 2008

Perfectly Clear

Many have said that it’s no surprise that Jewel has come up with a country album as her latest project. The multi-platinum singer/songwriter has made many strides towards her big debut in the genre with her appearance on the previous season of Nashville Star as a host, her upcoming position as a judge on the shows latest season, and the country feel and crossover quality of her previous album “Goodbye Alice In Wonderland“. Well this talented songwriter and vocalist has teamed up with none other than John Rich to take her career to a new level by making it official as a country record, with some disappointing results.

Many of the tracks off this new project are purely country. The first single “Stronger Woman” may cross some risky boundaries, but provides an inspirational look into Jewel’s writing as well as combining her pop career of early days with her country upbringing for a very decent track. In addition, “Till It Feels Like Cheating” brings out a very modern country sound with a very romantic and pure feeling behind it as two lovers try to spice up their love life in a very interesting way. What makes this album shine as a “country” record is the very traditional “Anyone But You” which brings Jewel to a state of vulnerability as she tries to escape a love that now haunts her again with the appearance of the one man she didn’t want to see around. These are the few songs that actually make this album worth every penny for a country fan.

The remainder of the album falters greatly in many ways. For one, it fails to shine as brightly in the writing aspect as much as Jewel’s former work. Jewel’s pen and paper have made her an inspiring and symbolic artist of words in the eyes and ears of critics and aspiring artists from all walks of life and genres. You’d never think that with much of this material. That’s not to say it’s horrible and tasteless, but the hooks aren’t as sharp and the lyrics aren’t as strong as Jewel has proven she can make them. Songs like “Thump, Thump” and “Everything Reminds Me Of You” come off as almost a little cheesy and sappy. In addition, many of them come off as forgettable. Even the former single, repackaged for this album, “Two Become One” comes off as superfluous and easily passed over without regret. However, her true ability as a writer does shine in “Rosey and Mick“, which brings to life the consistent theme by country females of abuse, however sutle it may be, through the story of a couple named none other than Rosey and Mick.

One of the album’s strongest aspects is that it shows 11 different perspectives of love, from good to bad. That in itself is a sentiment to Jewel as a writer and an artist, but this isn’t a concept album. It’s her first chance to make a lasting impression on the country music community and show off what she can really do. Instead we find her a victim of John Rich’s boundary-crossing production and using repetitive song topics in an attempt to woo the listener into a romantic and peaceful state-of-mind. Like Jewel, many of the ballads and much of the lyrics are bold and beautiful, but they leave much to be desired as far as diversity and impression.

So Jewel has at long last become an official country artist. Despite her reputation as a perspective country singer Jewel comes up quite short making many all to common debut artist mistakes despite her experience in the field. Her songwriting lacks where it should be her strongest point in many songs and pretty much all of this album is based upon the ups and downs of love, the only possible exception being “Stronger Woman” and even that slightly focuses around male ignorance of the female in itself. Despite her setbacks Jewel still manages to make a great showing of her vocal ability and a little bit of her writing skill in the work, but not enough to keep her from falling short of just an average album in the end.

 

3 Stars

 

Produced by Jewel and John Rich

Tracks:

  1. Stronger Woman
  2. I Do
  3. Love Is A Garden
  4. Rodey And Mick
  5. Anyone But You
  6. Thump, Thump
  7. Two Become One
  8. Till It Feels Like Cheating
  9. Everything Reinds Me Of You
  10. Loved By You (Cowboy Waltz)
  11. Perfectly Clear

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jennifer permalink
    June 10, 2008 9:06 pm

    I totally agree that some of it is a little repetitive, however, being a huge Jewel fan for years (my fav singer, even though I only really listen to country music) I am in love w/ this album! I wish it were a little more diverse, yet I can’t find anything to not like about it either. She sounds amazing and anyone who likes Jewel’s voice will love this.

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