Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Perfectly Clear - Jewel

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It was perhaps only to be expected that Jewel would deliver a "Country" album; perhaps it's a case of her "making the record she's always wanted to do" (as she suggested with the, I think, unfairly maligned 0304) or perhaps its an attempt to carve out a new audience. Long term it's impossible to tell if this is a single flight of fancy or a concerted move into new territory. Perhaps that will depend on record sales.

Things don't look good with opener Stronger Woman. If you were looking to set down a Female sung Country cliche in four easy minutes, you couldn't go far wrong with this. The sense is one of Jewel playing a Country star, rather than actually being one. It's a feeling that album struggles to shrug off.

Occasionally the pastiche is tossed aside to deliver something genuinely lifting, the main case in point being the title track, even if it seems to be little more than a Country retelling of one of her early hits, Foolish Games. I Do is another one that hits the right spot.

All in all this is far from a terrible album and there is no denying that Jewel has the ear for a catchy melody; the problem is as I've mentioned earlier, you're left with the feeling that she's merely "playing" at being a Country star, right down to the, at times, comedic attempts to effect a southern drawl.

Maybe if Country proves to be a long-term proposition for Jewel, she can get it right next time.

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