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Jewel

Perfectly Clear

RS: 2.5of 5 Stars Average User Rating: 4.5of 5 Stars

2008

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Jewel's life has always sounded like a country song: Raised by her cowboy dad and discovered while she was homeless, she went on to sell 12 million copies of her debut, only to become the butt of countless zingers. So Perfectly Clear, her first proper country record, should have been her true calling to an art that's one part twang to two parts self-mythology. But the album's biggest setback, other than the fact that its title sounds like a Neutrogena product, is that Jewel doesn't call upon the gritty storytelling of a real Nashville star. Co-producer John Rich of Big and Rich provides plenty of slide guitar, banjo plucks and fiddle, but no memorable melodies. The title track strikes a raw nerve with its slow, stripped-down arrangement. But the album is overcrowded by placid soft-rock tunes like "Two Become One" and "Anyone But You" with schmaltzy choruses and flavorless piano-laden verses. Jewel contributes bland pickup-truck philosophy about relationships in cutesy little-girl vocals that rarely show off her voice's texture (though, yes, there's some yodeling). On "I Do," she says, "Love is a game" — one track later, "Love Is a Garden." Even the girl-power anthem "Stronger Woman" doesn't promise much: "I'm going to love myself more than anyone else." Jewel, prepare to be zinged again.

CARYN GANZ

(Posted: Jun 12, 2008)

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