Album Review: Jewel – Sweet & Wild

Sam Gazdziak | June 18th, 2010

Jewel - Sweet and WildWith just one Top 20 hit to her country career, Jewel is in need of a song that provides that little boost, that spark, to get her solidly entrenched in radio playlists. The lead track on Sweet & Wild, “No Good in Goodbye,” could be that song. Kicking off with drums and guitars with banjo and fiddle right behind, Jewel sounds as energetic as she’s ever been, singing about a relationship worth saving. Yes, it’s a far cry from her earlier work, but it’s fast, fun and smile-inducing.

It’s also the best song on the album. The rest of Sweet & Wild tries to blend folk-pop and country songs, and they don’t always exist well together. “Fading,” for example, describes a mental breakdown in a urine-scented WalMart bathroom. While it’s a good, albeit dark, song, it doesn’t fit with “Summer Home In Your Arms,” which is every bit as trifling as the title would suggest.

Jewel wrote or co-wrote all but one song on the album, with mixed results. “I Love You Forever” is a nice take on how love can span the distance between two people, even if it sounds like a remake of Donna Lewis’ 1996 pop hit “I Love You Always Forever.” The lesser moments include “What You Are” and “Satisfied,” which are notable only because they cram more feel-good aphorisms into three-minutes than Oprah can manage in an hour-long TV show. “As Bad As It Gets,” written by Mike Mobley and Rachel Proctor, is a strong ballad that gets overwhelmed by strings and crashing drums.

Tracks like “No Good in Goodbye” and “Fading” do the best job of showing off Jewel’s vocals and songwriting abilities. All too often, though, Sweet & Wild veers into unmemorable pop with greeting-card sentiments.

3 Stars

  1. Paul W Dennis
    June 18, 2010 at 9:56 am

    The lead single is good but otherwise this is one of the dullest albums I’ve heard in years – 1 star maybe 1.5 stars (if I’m feeling generous)

  2. Jon
    June 18, 2010 at 10:09 am

    This is the second album review in as many days (the review of Welder being the other) to identify the inclusion of both “light” and “dark” songs on a project as problematic. I’m wondering whether folks see that as a structural problem – i.e., that it “can’t” or shouldn’t be done as a general rule – or whether it’s simply coincidence that it’s tagged as problematic in two particular cases that have been addressed at essentially the same time.

  3. Nicolas
    June 18, 2010 at 10:13 am

    I love this album, and think its definitely better than her previous country release =)

    My favorite songs are “Satisfied” and “Ten” … and my least fave is “Summer Home in Your Arms,” not because its bad, but because compared to everything else its boring

    I agree that they should release “No Good in Goodbye” to radio… IDK who had the bright idea of releasing “Satisfied” during the summer, but that was a horrible choice… would’ve been great come November but not now

  4. Stormy
    June 18, 2010 at 10:24 am

    I don’t get Jewel’s country career. She used to be a good, if whimsical and slightly preachy songwriter. What the hell happened?

  5. Rick
    June 18, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Jewel’s duet with Jason Michael Carroll on his debut album on the song “No Good In Goodbye” was the best song on the album. If Jewel’s solo version is half as good, then it should be released as a radio single.

    Stormy, marital bliss can tend to take the edge off a songwriter’s output…

  6. Leeann Ward
    June 18, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Rick, they’re not the same song, just the same title.

  7. Stormy
    June 18, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Rick: Sarah McLachlin got married and she didn’t start to suck. And Alanis and Sheryl stayed single and their music got worse (thought Sheryl’s has gotten some better again).

  8. Fizz
    June 18, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Man, talk about somebody jumping on every trend to come along. She was Miss Peasant Skirt in the Lilith Fair days, and then tried to be a trashy pop queen a la Christina Aguilera. Now that the hippie-chick thing is long gone, and the dancefloor-temptress thing didn’t work out, it’s on to country. Not that I can really blame her: look at all the morons racking up #1’s with absolute garbage songs. She probably thought, “Hell, if Justin Moore can do it, so can I!”

    As for the dark/light thing, I don’t mind the mixing of the two, but sometimes, it’s just weird. It’d be like if Faith Hill followed up “Sunshine Summertime” with a song about a meth-cooker losing his sight when his lab blows up in his face. A little incongruous, know what I mean?

  9. Leeann Ward
    June 18, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    She’s been trying to break into country long before Justin Moore had his first hit.

  10. Felipe
    June 18, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I think Ten would be the best song to be released as a single. As for the rest of the album, I don’t have an opinion yet, I just can’t see it as a whole.

  11. Julia Hughan
    June 18, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Sam, you are definitely more generous than I would have been.

    The silver lining is that the acoustic record makes for delightful study music.

  12. Stewman
    June 18, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    The saddest part about this conversation is realizng that Justin Moore actually had a hit!

  13. Noah Eaton
    June 18, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    …and that Justin Moore just might have inspired others to take a stab at hitmaking off of listing worn-out declarative statements pertaining to the backwoods! :/

  14. Rick
    June 18, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Rick’s Quick Random Tidbits: Since there is no country news topic thread today, I’ll have to hijack Jewel’s for a moment! (lol)

    This coming Sunday night at 4 PM CST (Nashville Time) the recently “uncloseted” Chely Wright will be playing guest DJ for an hour on LA’s eclectic rock radio station The Sound 100.3 FM. Each week music artists, music industry insider types, actors, comedians, and other types of celebrities get a shot an playing an hour’s worth of whatever type of music they like! Chely’s recent “coming out” has made her such a celebrity, for the moment at least. I’m expecting a song line up heavy with tracks from Melissa Etheridge, kd lang, Elton John, George Michael, Adam Lambert, etc… (jk)

    Station Link:

    Chely hits the airwaves at 4 PM Nashville time Sunday afternoon for 1 hour. If she plays a lot of country music, she will be the first such guest DJ they’ve ever had that has done so! (Of course none of the others have ever been country music artists.)

  15. J.B.
    June 18, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Let me start by saying that I think Jewel is talented and a good singer in her own right. In fact, I think sometimes her vocal interpretation, in some contexts, is capable of transcending lyrics that might be sub-par.

    But I can’t listen to this album. I feel too much dissonance and mismatch between her vocals and the production/basically every “stylistic” element featured among the various tracks. This record simply rubs me the wrong way.

  16. Ben Foster
    June 18, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    I would love to hear more of this beautiful voice on country radio. I loved “Stronger Woman,” and I wish it had gotten more airplay. But lately it does seem like there is some room for improvement in some of her country material.

  17. Fizz
    June 19, 2010 at 2:34 am

    Well, I was just using Justin Moore as an example, not implying he specifically was the inspiration.

    Country isn’t my first music of choice, but due to the company I keep lately, I’ve been subjected to a lot of it lately, and since I’m a fan of music in general, I like to rant about it sometimes. The country I like is a pleasant surprise. The stuff I don’t (like young Mr. Moore) makes me want to put my fist through a wall.

  18. Esteban
    June 19, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    i love the album! is true the best song is No Good In Goodbye, but summer home in your arms i realy like it.. it’s and old jewel’s song she sanga back in the 90 in her lives shows

  19. Robert
    June 29, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Afflicted by the cursed Loudness War too:

  20. vince
    July 21, 2010 at 5:09 am

    to Stormy: that was one of the funniest things i ever read! and true too. poor girls.

  21. Bailey
    November 27, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    How many of you Jewel bashers are in the music business? Go back to bed,take a walk or play something you enjoy. Maybe that’s not possible.

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