NEW YORK — It's hard to believe from looking at her that it's been 10 years since Jewel released her debut album, Pieces of You. But the still-radiant Jewel Kilcher will tell you it seems even longer to her.
"I've been reflecting on my life so much, it's surreal," she said Tuesday night at the Candie's Foundation Event to Prevent, a benefit to raise awareness about the consequences of teenage pregnancy. "I went from butchering cattle and using an outhouse to doing big events and MTV."
When she heads back into the studio sometime in the next few weeks to start work on her sixth studio album, she'll have a wealth of material to pull from. Because for Jewel, writing isn't something that she does only when she has a record to do, it's something that she does all the time. When it's time for her to pull something together she can look back over her writing and see what speaks to her. "It's been a really hard couple of years, and it's been a strange couple of years, and my writing has really reflected it," she said of her stockpile of material. "I think the record will be a raw and emotional record that looks back on my life in a brutally honest way."
Dissecting things and writing about them is something that's in Jewel's nature. "I'm very overly analytical," she said. "I understand the compulsion. Charles Bukowski said if you took the writer away from his typewriter he'd only be left with the disease that made him write in the first place. That's me, for sure."
Helping her pull together the album will likely be producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls). Originally due in September, the disc will probably be moved back a bit because Jewel wants to take her time with it. She and Cavallo have a week's worth of dates set up to work together, and she is excited to see how it will go. "He's a rock producer and I'm not going for a rock record," she said. "I'm going for a really raw record, but talking to him, I really think he gets what I'm into and he gets the influences that I like. I think I'll do a great and really different record for him and I hope it'll be a great, new and different record for me."
Jewel's last album, 2003's 0304, which spun off the top-10 dance hits "Intuition" and "Stand," is her favorite record to date, despite some of the confusion her satirical video for "Intuition" caused with some critics (see "Jewel Bites Into A Musical Pickle-And-Peanut Butter Sandwich"). Promoting herself has always been the hardest part of the job, Jewel said, and for her, the solution may be to continue to write for other artists. She recently submitted a song to Hilary Duff and is open to doing more songwriting for others.
"I've been off the road for a while and I have not been in a hurry to go back," she said. "I'd rather write. I'd rather do something creative than bust my ass and travel and try to promote [my music] to radio when I can have other people [I write songs for] do it for me. I can go and write other styles without getting the third degree about 'what a different style.' "
Being out of the spotlight for chunks of time is fine with Jewel, who finds that simple things make her happy. She recently bought a little two-bedroom house in Los Angeles for work-related convenience, but she says that she's happy working with horses with her boyfriend Ty Murray (a champion rodeo cowboy) on his ranch in Texas. She's also having fun writing short stories.
"I used to think that art was the be-all and end-all of life," she said. "I used to think it was more important than love and more important than anything, but I don't feel that anymore. I feel like if I applied myself I could be a lot better than I am, but I love spending time with my boyfriend and I love to spend my time learning other things, so I'm willing to let some things go."