Perfectly Clear is Jewel's first attempt at making a country music album after many years of being marketed as pop/folk. Unlike many artists dipping their toes in the country music genre, she has really immersed herself in the whole history and feeling behind the country artists from the past as well as today's stars. Her roots stem from growing up living with her father and spending time on his ranch. After her time hosting Nashville Star, it was inevitable a Nashville-based album would be released, and I'm glad it was. You will be too once you give it a try.
Lately, there have been quite a few artists from other parts of the music business trying to break into the country music genre in hopes of finding a new audience. Not all of these artists have a true appreciation or understanding, and to be quite honest, it shows in their songs. Maybe it's not blatant, but it's there regardless. At least with Jewel, you really get a sense that she's putting a lot of thought and effort into her first country album and special songs she's written for the collection. It's a wonderful release and I am already looking forward to hearing more from her in the years to come.
"Stronger Woman" is all about having the inner strength to believe in yourself. Don't settle for anything less than what you deserve and if that means walking away from somebody who makes you feel uncomfortable, then you do what you have to do. It's not right if you are with someone who makes you so uncomfortable you have to act a certain way or be someone you aren't. "I'm gonna love myself more than anyone else. Believe in me, even if someone can't see the stronger woman in me."
My favorite song on the album is "Love Is A Garden" and it was written by Jewel and Shaye Smith. The lyrics are smartly strung together as a woman looks back and realizes that maybe taking a break from her relationship wasn't such a smart idea after all. Once you let go of something or someone, it gets more difficult to make up for what you've been missed as time progressed. Though it seemed like the couple was arguing nonstop, she thinks they should have made more time for each other instead of letting the "weeds" (family, work, etc.) tear them apart.
"Rosy And Mick" isn't your typical "forever in love" type of couple song. Maybe when they were younger a simple "sorry" would be enough to make the woman forget about what the man did to her -- but it's not going to cut it now that she's older. Not only that, but you can only apologize so many times for something that you have no intention of stopping. I absolutely love the banjo in the song because it really helps the story "roll along."
The most country-sounding song is definitely "Anyone But You," and the first time I listened I was surprised at how traditional it was. Jewel sounds amazing and the sound could easily take you back to the Tammy Wynette-era. Jewel wrote the song with Wynn Varble and she knocks it out of the park when it comes to the vocals. This would no doubt be the song to listen for at a concert.
For the first time in her career, Jewel has recorded a song she had no part in writing. That song is "'Til It Feels Like Cheating." In the first few lines, one might think it's another typical cheating song, that is until you get to the part where you realize it's a married couple trying to light a new spark and feeling the danger like "they are doing something wrong." She says: "Kiss me hard like we're about to sin and there ain't no going back. For a while we'll be free, just you and me making promises life won't let us keep." They want to get away from the typical family life and spend some intimate moments together.
"Loved By You (Cowboy Waltz)" is one of five songs written solely by Jewel and one she dedicates to her father, who instilled in her a love for cowboy music and poetry. Complete with yodeling, it's not hard imagining this song being sung by an open campfire under a beautiful star-filled sky. Another song she wrote by herself is the title track, "Perfectly Clear." Though it was written when Jewel was eighteen years old, it seems like this particular album was the perfect place for it. Having "Perfectly Clear" as the closing track really solidifies Jewel's first (and hopefully not last) country album. Jewel has an appreciation for country music and it shows.
Debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200 with 48,000 copies sold.