Review: Jack Foley
SINGER/songwriter Jewel first burst into the musical spotlight
with her Diamond Award winning debut album, Pieces of You, in
1995, and has been tirelessly trying to re-invent herself ever
Indeed, a quick look at her biog and it appears that there is
nothing that this musician can't do, if she puts her mind to it.
And her remit extends way beyond music, into producing, writing
(poetry, that is) and acting (she has appeared in Ang Lee's Ride
With The Devil, and is set to produce Wave).
Her latest long-player, therefore, finds her experimenting in
the worlds of hip-hop, folk and pop, with varying degrees of success.
Produced by Cuban-American, Lester Mendez, who has worked with
Shakira, Santana and Enrique Iglesias, 0304 finds Jewel
sounding like Madonna and, at times, Kylie, without ever really
convincing that she could cut it as one of those divas.
The album starts promisingly enough, with Stand, a track
which also contains the obligatory social commentary that seems
to accompany every major new release coming out of America nowadays.
Containing an electro-inspired backbeat, the lyrics include such
choice lines as 'walk in a corner shop, see a shoplifting cop,
see an old lady with a gun... nothing's what it seems', before
declaring that 'together we can make a stand'.
In truth, some of the lyrics seem a little too biting for the
melodies which accompany them, but this is but a minor quibble
in the grand scheme of things.
Where 0304 tends to slip up is during its all too frequent
routine moments; tracks which succeed in capturing the bland sound
of mainstream pop at the moment, which could easily have been
penned by any all-girl band.
Tracks such as Fragile Heart and Leave The Lights On
are particularly indicative of this, and fail to do justice to
the real talent that is Jewel.
Elsewhere, however, there are moments to savour, particularly
if you like Kylie or Madonna.
Former single, Intuition, with its neat French accordian
intro and hand-clapping back beat, is a suitably sassy number,
while 2 Find U is an effortlessly catchy pop record that
provides an ideal showcase for Jewel's vocals, while evoking memories
of early Kylie.
U & Me = Love was, according to HMV, originally written
for Holly Valance and sounds like it, while Becoming finds
Jewel sounding most like Madonna, complete with some truly dripping
vocals - the latter, in particular, marks the sound of the album
at its best.
The social commentary also returns for the track, America,
which declares 'we shed blood in the name of liberty', before
turning a little patriotic.
Yet, in the final analysis, it's the album's failings that tend
to become more apparent than its successes - maybe because we
have come to expect more from Jewel, given her impressive CV,
or perhaps because of the lack of a truly stand-out track.
It's a pleasant listen which seems a little too easy to truly
be regarded as a worthwhile change of direction.
Still, true Jewel fans will no doubt consider it another gem,
and it has already gone down a storm in America (where she continues
to find the majority of her success).
2. Run 2 U
4. Leave The Lights ON
5. 2 Find U
6. Fragile Heart
7. Doin Fine
8. 2 Become 1
10. Sweet Temptation
11. Yes U Can
12. U & Me = Love