Love her or hate her, Jewel is back. I admit to liking quite a bit – but not all – of Jewel’s past work, but I can also see where there’s a bit of pop culture backlash against her trying-almost-too-hard-to-be-earnest style. And to some degree, wisely, she sheds some – but not all – of that style in her latest album.
“Standing Still”, which also led the album as its first single, starts things off with a burst of raw energy which carries Jewel firmly out of the wanna-be folkster category and into rock ‘n’ roll territory. Some might be a bit dubious about this transition, but she actually carries it off well – her voice is capable of pulling it off respectably.
Other standout tracks include L”ove Me, Just Leave Me Alone”, “Serve The Ego”, and “Everybody Needs Someone Sometime”, all of which feature something of the same rocky feel as “Standing Still” to varying degrees. On other tracks, such as “Break Me”, Jewel retains her signature style, proving for the doubters that perhaps she hasn’t changed as much as you might think.
Overall, there’s actually a pretty good balance of new Jewel and old Jewel, stylistically speaking, and there are even a few live tracks thrown in at the end of the album just to mix things up even more. Still, there’s something missing – the ballads don’t come close to reaching the eloquence of “Amen” or “Deep Water”, and the rockier numbers somehow aren’t on the same plateau as, say, “Down So Long” or “Who Will Save Your Soul”. It’s just possible that Jewel has run out of inspiration and is falling back on old tricks to fill things out. The press material for This Way made a point of telling us that Jewel had been burned out on touring and promotions during the publicity trail for her second album, and retreated from performing for a while to recoup her energies; This Way, while certainly listenable in places, comes across as a bit hollow both musically and lyrically. Maybe Jewel wasn’t quite ready to come back.
- Standing Still (4:29)
- Jesus Loves You (4:20)
- Everybody Needs Someone Sometime (4:08)
- Break Me (4:03)
- Do You Want To Play? (2:55)
- Till We Run Out Of Road (4:45)
- Serve The Ego (4:57)
- This Way (4:16)
- Cleveland (4:09)
- I Won’t Walk Away (4:46)
- Love Me, Just Leave Me Alone (3:47)
- The New Wild West (5:05)
- Grey Matter (4:40)
- Sometimes It Be That Way (4:21)
Released by: Atlantic
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 59:41