Jewel's freewheeling optimism can work wonders

Jewel's freewheeling optimism can work wonders

Jewel Kilcher in art Jewel Today he turns 50. A career marked by the dazzling success of his debut album “Pieces of you” in 1995. Over the years other records have followed, the latest of which, “Freewheelin' Woman”was released in April 2022. With our review of this album we wish the Alaskan-raised musician a happy birthday.

In 1995, at the age of twenty-one, he made a lightning-fast debut with “Pieces of you”, a first record release with over ten million copies. An exploit that has never been repeated in those proportions by Jewel. Perhaps because he shared his talent and commitment with writing, acting and with the frantic search to have a well-balanced private life, without giving in to the inevitable depersonalizing temptations that success brings with it. Whatever happened, before this “Freewheelin' Woman” it had been six and a half years since the girl who grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, had released an album, “Picking Up the Pieces” in 2015. A good opportunity to go out with a new album – which apparently was ready to be released when the pandemic got involved – was offered to her by participation (with related television showcase) in the first edition of the 'American Song Contest', the stars and stripes version of the ' our' Eurovision Song Contest with the various states of the country led by Joe Biden instead of the nations of the old continent. For the record, Jewel stands for the colors of Alaska, her home state.

“Freewheelin' Woman” is an album recorded live, it is a warm album that favors soul and r'n'b influences.

It is an optimistic album that invites us not to let go, not to give in to the setbacks that life is subjected to. The album opens with the horns supporting a very r'n'b voice and the optimistic refrain of “Long way 'round”. Train support Jewel in “Dancing slow”, his voice and Pat Monahan's dance slowly trying to recreate the ancient magic of a love. The only other guest on the album, Darius Rucker, appears with his deep voice in “No more tears”, an intense ballad written for the soundtrack of 'Lost in America', a documentary on homeless young Americans directed by director Rotimi Rainwater and produced by Jewel herself, who has long been involved in social work. The impalpable and carefree pop of “Alibis” celebrates the end of a relationship with those who don't deserve us (“I don't wish you were here”) and acts as a counterbalance to the painful and angry “Grateful”, soul-inspired starting from title, which allows Jewel to showcase her good vocal skills and reiterate the main theme of female pride that recurs in the songs included in “Freewheelin' Woman”.

The story of Sally and Gary told in the bitter “Half life” and the lost love of the acoustic “Almost” are daughters of country storytelling. “Dance sing laugh love” the advice to use as antidotes against the difficulties recommended by Jewel, with a sax solo at the end. Look back to the Sixties in “Living with your memory”, here the girl who comes from the ice lands explodes all the negritude that is in her: “I cut my teeth with singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan and for some reason it's there that my voice and writing wanted to go on this album.” We wander into the formidable Sixties also in “Love wins” which bursts out joyfully giving Sally Mae and Billy Jones (the protagonists of the song) the deserved 'promised land' despite the conditions not being the most encouraging.

The cover image and the title of the album are not misleading, Jewel is in good artistic health because she has achieved an internal balance that allows her to give primary importance to what makes her happy, as she declared to Spin: “They are the simple things.

I think we don't give enough credit to the things that truly make us happy. Creativity, the act of creation makes me incredibly happy. Being a parent, being a mother, makes me very happy. Free and quiet time makes me very happy. Being in nature makes me very happy. I live a very simple life because it's the really simple things that make me happy.” In the face of so much happiness, it doesn't matter if, in the meantime, Jewel has been eliminated and thus failed to reach the semi-finals of the 'American Song Contest'. But the last word has not been said, the competition rules require there to be repechages and Jewel's 'freewheeling' optimism can work miracles.