I list Jewel as one of my favorite musicians of all time. However, in reality, this praise is only given
based on one album. Strange, I know, to give such credit to an artist who only accomplished one work
of any worth, but for me, its depth, edge and artistic beauty easily earns its place in my spotlight.
This album is titled, "Pieces of You" and was her debut. It was first introduced to me by my cousin and
the hooks and raw quality instantly appealed to me at the age of eight.
I bought the album for myself eight years later, and that was when I truly realized its greatness. There
are spine-tingling moments as you listen to her voice bring out every ounce of meaning in those resentful,
passionate, sweet and often disturbing lyrics. The album does hit some low points, though, such as the
overly-poetic and aimless "Painters" and simply boring "Amen."
Even in this album, next to the skillfully indignant prose, she exposes some flaws. A few of the "flawed"
moments could be interpreted as intentionally open windows into her soul, while others are just flimsy artistry.
Instead of improving, growing in depth and finding more creative melodies, with the next album, "Spirit," Jewel
hopelessly embraced that very shamelessness that had revealed her weakness in "Pieces of You."
She reverted to alternately cryptic and obvious poetry, with little or no socio-political significance and led
us to the conclusion that she must have been high as a kite as she wrote these songs. The shift from earthy
guitar tracks to ethereal layering combined with the vague lyricism lends to this thought as well. With song titles
such as, "What's Simple is True" and "Kiss the Flame" it's not hard to make the case for it.
"Fat Boy" is the only attempt at recapturing the emotion of the first album and "Hands" is the only song worth
mentioning for its entertainment value.
The next time I heard Jewel's name it was accompanied by images of a heavily make-upped, thinner and more
intentionally seductive woman, along with music so forcefully glossed-over I nearly gagged. Jewel had apparently stopped
hitting the bong and started hitting the clubs.
What was up with this girl? Was it all some master plan to become a pop singer? A sneaky plan to weasel her way
into the homes of intelligent people through haunting stories and beautifully simple rhythms, so that once she had their
attention she could stop having to think so hard and continue making money by writing things like "U & Me = Love." ?
The title alone of that song is an insult to true musicians everywhere. Was she drunk and didn't care? Was she just
pretending before when she claimed she was an "artist" ?
Now she's trying to be some kind of country singer thing girl person, sporting a boyfriend in a cowboy hat and no looks
to speak of. Maybe he's her one claim to having a soul.
Either way, I personally find the misuse of her talent, fame and opportunity a slap in the face, as someone who thought
she was truly great - for about twenty-five minutes.