Before this album even came out, we got some emails from
long-time Jewel fans who had read our interview with the singer and were very
disturbed by the direction that folk singer Jewel was taking with her latest
album, the single "Intuition" and the video for the song.
I hadn't heard the song at the time of the first note, and
when I did see the video... a goof on advertising with the sensitive, down-home
songstress turned into a temptress... I took it two ways. I was not
personally bothered by it, but I can see why it threw some of her long-time
fans. In fact, I do believe Jewel when she says that the song and video
were a parody (honestly, it isn't all that funny, but Jewel has never really
been known for her lighter side) of advertising and videos by Britney Spears,
Christina Aguilera and the like. But, I'm also sure that she was well
aware of the fact that her last two albums were met with diminishing sales and
her type of folky female Lilith Fair singer/songwriter has fallen from favor.
So, why not shake things up to keep in the public eye?
There is a long history of musicians trying other styles to stay with it, and it
isn't always a bad thing. In the late seventies, respected rockers The
Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Kiss and Elton John all released disco singles, and
it didn't hurt their reputations all that much.
The fact is, "Intuition" is a dance-pop song, but it's
a pretty damned good one. It has a snaky, exotic beat that Justin
Timberlake or Beyoncé would kill for. The rest of the album trades on more
of a pop vibe, as well. But, again, the songs work. "Stand" is a
lovely mid-tempo jam which features a stunning vocal performance. "Run 2
U" could follow the first single up the charts and into the clubs. "Leave
the Lights On" has a trip-hop vibe that works better than you'd expect.
She also hasn't totally given up on her traditional folky ballads, "Fragile
Heart" is a more polished version of that style.
Yes, 0304 is a huge departure for Jewel. And,
yes, it is a bit of a sell-out. But it is Jewel's right to change her
musical style if she sees fit. More importantly, it works for her.
0304 isn't going to make anyone forget Pieces of You, but it's not
a bad job at all of keeping with the times. Give Jewel the benefit of the doubt
listen to the album with fresh ears, instead of comparing it to her past, and
you'll most likely enjoy it.