Crop tops, episodes of Friends, platform sneakers, Jewel blaring out of the speakers in traffic. No it is not the ‘90s, but everything ‘90s is coming back into full swing and Jewel is no exception.
Jewel made her hit debut on the music scene in 1995 with her album titled “Pieces of You.” The album was wildly successful. One may recognize favorites like, “Who Will Save Your Soul” and “You Were Meant for Me.” The album was one of the best selling debut albums of all time, going platinum 15 times over. Jewel also branched into country in 2008 with her album ,
“Perfectly Clear.” In addition to singing, Jewel also co-hosted the tv show “Platinum Hit” on Bravo.
Her newest album, “Picking Up the Pieces,” nods to her first album and also insinuates a comeback. The style of the songs on this album are also reminiscent of her first album in that they rely heavily on the lyrics and are strung together by thoughtful and minimal guitar melodies.
The album is very ‘90s and gives the listener a sense of nostalgia. Your past memories of Jewel might be hearing it blaring from the speakers in your mom’s car, or sampling her music at the listening stations at borders.
However, her lyrics aren’t as young. This album has a more mature sound. One of the best songs on this album is “A Boy Needs a Bike” depicts her relationship with her father.
“Mom feels left out and now she’s starting to cry/ I wonder if all girls are crazy this way/ I wish pops would just get a spine/I said I know it’s kind of small but you can borrow mine/ He just smiled and said, ‘your mom means well son’/Most times are good it’s just some that are lean/But it’s love that makes up for those times in between.”
She stays true to her poetic style, but rather being about the trials and tribulations of love, or self-discovery, these lyrics lend to a more mature Jewel grappling with more mature topics.
“Boy Needs a Bike” is one of the stronger songs on the album.
Another song that stands out on the album is “Pretty Faced Fool.” This song is the most downloaded song on iTunes from “Picking Up the Pieces.”
Again, Jewel sticks to a more mature tone in this song, looking back confidently on her choice to end a romantic relationship.
“What good’s a heart that’s too damn tough to break/ That’s too damn cool to take a chance on love/ Yeah I took a chance on us/ Now that I look like I’m just a fool I think you oughta know/ You’re just a pretty-faced fool who let one get away.”
What is great about Jewel’s mature tone is that it’s empowering to women. Few female lyricist have songs as confident as these, which is something that stands out about this album.
The weakest track on this album is “Nicotine Love.” It has almost a surreal-like sound in the sense that her voice fights the guitar’s melody for the dominant noise in the song. It was easily the most different song on this album, but it wasn’t to my liking.
Overall, I would give this album four stars. It was consistent with the style that Jewel started out with, bringing a real sense of nostalgia to this listening experience. Additionally, it still remained fresh, and is new enough that it doesn’t feel like she was repeating any messages that she had previously centered any of her other songs around. This ‘90s singer-songwriter has surely picked up the pieces on this amazing new album.