Jewel will return to record stores in November with This Way, a new album she describes as eclectic, raw and packed with love songs.
The Alaskan singer/songwriter's last full-fledged album of original songs, 1998's Spirit, packed synthesizers and other pop slickness onto the homespun acoustic sound of her debut, 1995's Pieces of You. This time, it seems, Jewel was looking for some middle ground.
"I really wanted to do an eclectic record, a record that stayed raw and didn't become slick or really overproduced," she said backstage at this month's MTV Video Music Awards.
The album isn't due until November 13, but Jewel has already shot a video for the album's first single, "Standing Still," with director Darren Grant (Destiny's Child, Aaliyah). The song, which is just beginning to get radio play, combines melancholy lyrics with music Jewel pegged as "peppy."
"It's sort of about being on the road and doing a show and about missing someone," she said. "My boyfriend got to be in [the video], so I was excited." The video is due out soon, according to Atlantic Records.
Jewel also managed to pare down the Dylan-evoking blues-rock track "Love Me Just Leave Me Alone" enough to include it on the album. The track has become a fan favorite at live performances.
"I cleaned up the drums a little bit, [and] I did a slide guitar [part] on the first verse," Jewel said. "There's a lot of verses, classic Dylan style. There are like 1,500 verses, and I'm terrible at it I just always write too many verses. So we had to figure out a way to get more verses in and change it up."
The album also includes the "sweet" love song "Break Me," along with such tracks as "'Til We Run Out of Road" (co-written with Jewel's boyfriend, rodeo star Ty Murray) and "Serve the Ego."
Itaal Shur, co-writer of the Santana smash "Smooth," helped write "Serve the Ego," which boasts Indian-flavored backing, a minor-key melody and the cynical refrain "Get on your hands and knees/ And praise the new deity/ Serve the ego" (see "Jewel Cutting 'Dangerous' Tracks For Next Record").
Jewel recorded This Way in Nashville, enlisting the help of veteran producer Dann Huff (Megadeth, Faith Hill). "I liked the Megadeth background tremendously," Jewel joked. "But he's really talented as a musician. He's a guitarist, and he has a great ear, really great versatility and a great attitude. We hit it off very well."
After doing isolated promotional dates this year including a "Late Show With David Letterman" appearance Thursday night (September 20) Jewel hopes to mount a full-fledged theater tour in early 2002, she said.