Ever since she arrived on the music scene with “Foolish Games,” a part of me wondered if Jewel wasn’t better off releasing records that focused on country music. It may have taken her thirteen years to do so but with the release of “Perfectly Clear,” Jewel has finally come home to country and has been embraced with open arms by the mainstream country music community.
Leading off “Perfectly Clear” is Jewel’s first Top 15 hit at country radio. With crisp but understated production from John Rich, “Stronger Woman” instantly showcases Jewel’s strong lyrical sense about what it’s like to be a woman who wakes up and realizes she’s constantly the woman who puts everyone else before her self. It’s a song many female fans resonated with and sets up the rest of the record quite nicely. Jewel revisits a previously recorded track in “Two Become One” and while firmly on the pop side of the country fence, the song still features strong fiddle fills and a steel guitar solo while Jewel sings a lyric that should allow the song to be a part of numerous weddings in the future.
Fans of old-school country should rejoice in the fact that Jewel can sing a song that has a Floyd Cramer-like piano backing up a Tammy Wynette-like lyrics of “Anyone But You.” The same fans may like “’Til It Feels Like Cheating” as well, with it’s strong presence of steel guitar, honky tonk piano and traditional country music imagery of a relationship in need of repair.
Jewel dipped deep into her songbook and delivered a wonderfully image-filled lyrical gem in the title track, “Perfectly Clear.” Jewel also managed to, with this song, hit at her first recordings enough to make fans not feel as if the transition to country music was anything but a natural progression for a girl who grew up in the Alaskan wilderness.