It comes as no surprise that Jewel, an acclaimed American singer, songwriter, actress, poet, painter, philanthropist and daughter to an Alaskan cowboy singer-songwriter, finds herself in the embrace of country music for the release of her seventh career album, Perfectly Clear.
Jewel's personal odyssey, partly chronicled on one of the best selling debut albums of all time, the twelve-time platinum Pieces of You, comes full circle with her forthcoming country album, Perfectly Clear, the debut release on newly launched Nashville-based independent label The Valory Music Co.
Jewel is set apart her whole career for not only singing, but writing all her songs, and this album is no exception. "I've been writing country songs my whole career; some of the songs on this record date back to when I was 18 years old. I've been hanging on to them until now. They were meant for a record like this one."
The record's first single "Stronger Woman" is a powerful and positive message that resonates with women of any age. Perfectly Clear is produced by Jewel and John Rich of Big and Rich fame. "Jewel is probably one of the greatest American singer-songwriters we have. It is such an honor to work with anyone of that caliber of talent," Rich says. Jewel has spent a lot of time in Nashville over the last few years, and has naturally been drawn to and accepted by the Nashville music community. "If I were discovered today, there is no doubt that I would be signed as a country artist. Songs like "You Were Meant For Me" would have been a country hit today, and not a pop hit as it was in the 90s. The genres have changed more than I feel I have," says Jewel.
Arguably the best-written record in Jewel's catalogue. -- Slant Magazine
When you pick up Jewel's, Perfectly Clear CD check out cut five on the disc, Anyone But You, written by Jewel and Wynn Varble. It's so authentic and classic country in content and delivery, it could have been a country hit by some country diva of Jewels' caliber during any of the last four decades, including this first one of the 21st century. But then, a lot of this John Rich/Jewel produced collection feels that way. -- Neil Hailsop
It makes sense that Jewel would steer her career into country territory. She already had a sound that cozied up against the country crossover genre occupied by Shania Twain and LeAnn Rimes, and she can yodel like nobody's business.
With Perfectly Clear, the singer, who's been sidelined in the pop world lately, finds her spot comfortably among the cowboy hats of TV show Nashville Star and producer John Rich of Big & Rich fame. Don't expect an album full of mandolin and banjo, however. Jewel is true to her diehard fans with songs that are really the soft pop ballads she does best -- only this time her weakness for hackneyed lyrics are a little more appropriate in a mainstream country milieu, so she may have found her true comfort zone. And there are some truly lovely songs here, including the James Taylor-ish Love Is a Garden, which covers familiar Jewel ground about love lost. It's not far off her old You Were Meant for Me hit, as is much of the release. Her hit single Stronger Woman is a female-empowerment song done Jewel style, as in, delivered irony-free and straightforward, while Anyone But You showcases her talent for a country yodel, with Grand Ol Opry flourish. It's less a stellar country debut than one that shows a lot of promise, and if Jewel could set her sights less on Rich's mainstream and more say, on an authentic rawness of Shelby Lynne, she might just graduate to the level of songwriting befitting that powerful range of hers. -- Kerry Gold, MSN
JEWEL: Perfectly Clear (Open Road/Maplemusic/Universal) Jewel makes a surprisingly effective transition is to mainstream country music and seems quite at home in Nashville.*** -- MIKE REGENSTREIF, The Montreal Gazette
Jewel began her career with folk-rock, then strayed to pop, and now she's moseying over to country with Perfectly Clear, but she doesn't cave to the genre's notoriously rigid format. Her first single "Stronger Woman" urges ladies to be their "own best friend" with slightly hokey albeit surprising feminist gusto--a welcome throwback to stars like Loretta Lynn. Convictions aside, she expertly appeals to purists ("Anyone But You") and fans of modern country-pop ("I Do") with an energy and freshness lacking from her recent efforts. -- Cory Albertson, Country Roundup
Jewel has been a pop chart fixture since 1995, but organically rooted, making her move to country a convincing transition. Her seventh album and first full-length country project, "Perfectly Clear," is not only persuasive, but down-home, old-school country. It's not just the addition of steel guitar that sells Jewel's passage, but the whole of her delivery and lyrical themes. Potential hits abound: Best are the searching, chug-along "I Do"; remorseful ballad "Everything Reminds Me of You"; the uptempo, playful "Rosey and Mick," about a long-term imperfect relationship; and the mannered "Anyone but You," which sounds like a Tammy Wynette classic. Jewel continues to surprise and inspire. -- MSNBC
Perfectly Clear -- Jewel's strong seventh album -- is billed as her "country" record, but Jewel has been country for years. The ways in which Perfectly Clear is more country than her 1995 debut album, Pieces of You, are small -- more a function of nods and gestures than of wholesale conversion. Jewel wrote or helped write every song save one. Producer John Rich (of Big & Rich) has done little to hammer down her well-worn eccentricities: wordiness; imperfect rhymes; a sharp, assured voice that collapses for effect. Her brand of country is gentle; making her a genre star will require some adrenaline. Anyone but You boldly revisits country's early-'70s pop movement; Jewel is lovely on it, her voice breathy and bittersweet. Till It Feels Like Cheating recalls the blues-inflected sound of Julie Roberts. It's the best song and the likeliest hit. But it is no coincidence that it is the one Jewel didn't write. -- Jon Caramanica, The New York Times
Perfectly Clear finds Jewel -- who only five years ago was making like Britney -- turning herself into a country singer with the assistance of producer John Rich, best known as half of Big & Rich. It sounds like an extreme makeover but it's not, as the country form focuses her, helping her deliver concise, pretty poppy tunes that are reminiscent of her hit debut Pieces of You. -- By Matt Fernandes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Pop-folkie Jewel's finally gone country on her seventh album, and it suits her: She's an earnest storyteller, and in the land of steel guitars (and co-producer John Rich), there's no shame in tracks titled "Love Is a Garden" and "Thump, Thump," two sweet, sway-along tunes. And though self-help single "Stronger Woman" is unremarkable radio fare, Jewel does conjure a few special ballads. Her thick vibrato makes desperation palpable on the Patsy-would-be-proud weeper "Anyone but You," and she actually yodels with soul on the soaring "Loved by You (Cowboy Waltz). B+ -- Mandi Bierly, Entertainment Weekly
These days everyone from Bon Jovi and the Eagles to Jessica Simpson and Snoop Dogg(!) seems to want a piece of the country market. After her last CD, 2006's Goodbye Alice in Wonderland, failed to take off, Jewel has become another Nashville interloper. But for the neo-folkie, venturing into country territory comes just as easily as hopping over the barnyard fence. It's certainly a lot more natural of a transition than when she attempted a dance-pop makeover on 2003's 0304. Without affecting too much of a twang in her voice, she gets the phrasing - and the feeling - just right on tunes like the lilting "Loved by You (Cowboy Waltz)," while spinning a classic country conceit on the balland standout, "Till It Feels Like Cheating." And on "Two Become One," Jewel evokes something really sweet: early Olivia Newton-John. -- Chuck Arnold, People magazine
What's the big theme in the new CD pile today? Women, reinventing themselves.
JEWEL SHOWS NEW FACETS: She made her mark as a sensitive singer-songwriter, till fans of that genre moved on to newer, brassier girls on the block. So Jewel has reinvented herself as a down-home, no-nonsense country singer.
On "Perfectly Clear" (The Valory Music Co, B+) this now Nashville-based Dixie chick puts on a pretty convincing Southern accent and covers all the twangy bases, from the banjo-flavored, love-yourself anthem "Stronger Woman" to the dangerous-liaison-themed, "Til It Feels Like Cheating" and the rueful, torchy, Patsy Cline-ish "Anyone But You," flavored with pedal steel and fiddle.
Truth is, I never thought Jewel was that distinctive of a folk composer, but in the less-demanding country arena, her material seems top tier. -- By Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News