Jewel Just Having Fun These Days
NEW YORK (Billboard) – It took three albums for Jewel to convince us that she’s an earnest woman with a message and a guitar.
Now, forget about it.
With today’s release of “0304,” this girl just wants to have fun. The 14-song Atlantic Records set finds the heady singer/songwriter relinquishing her folk/pop roots to explore electronic beats and uptempo melodies, taking her out of coffeehouses and onto the dance floor.
“I’ve always been considered a very serious artist,” says Jewel, 28. “This is my pop culture record. The world is complicated and hard, and people want to be able to lose themselves in the rhythm. People want to feel young and sexy and smart; and like things are OK — including me. That is the only image I had writing these songs. This is a happy record.”
Jewel called on Lester Mendez — who has worked with Shakira, Santana, and Enrique Iglesias — to collaborate through the process of songwriting, arranging, and producing the album.
“I’d always thought electronic music was cold and pat and not very creative,” she says. Yet she decided to try the remix treatment on “Serve the Ego,” a single from her previous This Way.
The end result not only resonated personally but lifted Jewel to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.
“I found a way to use beats that suits me,” she says. “Now, I see that it’s like being a painter who says they will never use red or yellow. Why limit yourself that way?” She adds, “I intend to work with Lester for the rest of my life. I can’t tell you how powerful a musician he is.”
Jewel also went about the songwriting process in a way that was novel for her: “Usually, when it’s time to make an album, I compile songs from my catalog; I’ve always had a lot in stock. This is the first time I’ve written a record from beginning to end, really exploring where current culture is heading.”
As a result, Jewel — who signed with EMI Music Publishing at the beginning of May — and Mendez recorded and mixed the record in a rapid-fire eight weeks.
First single “Intuition” gives listeners a clear indication of Jewel’s new stylistic gleam.
The song opens with an accordion and rallies like a gypsy carnival, with an army of marching beats and creamy layers of harmony coming from behind.
The video clip, directed by Marc Klasfeld, prompted an even bigger surprise: Jewel playing up her sexuality before the camera.
“It’s true, I’ve always held back; I always believed you can’t be smart and sexy at the same time,” she admits. “But at this point, people know who I am and what I stand for, so I feel like I can play with that image and offer some irony.”
That’s not to say that “0304” is shallow. As usual, Jewel layers her songwriting, allowing listeners to dig as deep as they choose to.
“If you look at it just for the beat value, then this is a fun record. But if you want to go deeper, there are as many levels of irony as you want,” Jewel says. “If you want to hear what I’ve learned about the world and what I’ve been through in my life, it’s there.”
Atlantic Records Group co-president Ron Shapiro says, “This is a young woman who has always been in command of her talent, her beauty, her intelligence, and her desire to be impactful. She’s in a unique position to take the credibility of a lauded singer/songwriter and show that you can be funny and provocative.”
SINGLE GOES TO RETAIL, TV
The label’s initial plan of attack was to place “Intuition” at mainstream and adult top 40 radio. It is currently No. 30 on The Billboard Hot 100.
Atlantic backed the release with a commercial single May 6 and a maxi-single including dance mixes of the song and video footage May 13.
Jewel also inked a deal with Schick razors to use “Intuition” as the music for a national TV ad campaign to launch the company’s new all-in-one shaver, called Intuition. A related concert event was held May 10 in New York’s Central Park, where she sang the song.
In addition to a barrage of morning and night time talk-show appearances, Jewel was also on the roster at this year’s VH1 Diva Duets concert May 22.
She also continues to back a number of personal causes, including talent search Soul City Cafe, which will award the winners with opening slots on her next tour (not yet scheduled); and Higher Ground for Humanity, a foundation launched with her mother and manager, Lenedra Carroll.
But foremost — for now — let the beat be heard.
“It always takes time to know what somebody is capable of; people have watched my learning curve since the beginning,” Jewel says. “I’ve tried as much as I can to be honest, and I’ve been lucky enough to do this job according to the morals and principles that suit me. Now, I’m ready for this album to be heard.”
Jewel Just Having Fun These Days