Five years after her last album, Sweet and Wild, country-folk singer Jewel has announced that she will have a brand new yet-untitled project released via Sugar Hill Records this September. With her preschooler and a recent divorce to rodeo champion Ty Murray to use as fodder, this decidedly more acoustic and rootsy project than her last Valory Records project. In Jewel's own words:
This CD was a fantastic labor of love for me and took a while for me to finish because I was trying to do my real job, which is to be a parent to my son Kase, going through a divorce with love and grace, which takes a tremendous amount of effort and focus, and writing a book three hours a day, three days a week, while Kase was in preschool.
My focus for this CD was to forget everything I have learned about the music business the last 20 years and get back to what my bones have to say about songs and words and feeling and meaning. I let go of genre, radio, trend, current events, and clever strategies. I let go of it all - which was no small feet as those voices are so deeply penetrating after 20 years of doing this professionally. It took real effort to clear my thoughts and have no rules and just create - going back to my folk/American roots that I began with. I had wanted Ben Keith, who did Pieces of You, to produce it for me, but sadly he is no longer with us and I had wanted to hire Paul Worley, an old dear friend whom I believe still cares about art more than commerciality. I had wanted to use many of the Stray Gators, Neil Young’s back up band that also played on my first CD, but we lost many of them over the years, so Paul helped me get some players together that were from that camp- like Chad Cromwell on drums and Dan Dougmoore on guitar. About a week before rehearsals, Paul backed out of my project, telling me he believed the only person who should produce the CD was myself. I was quite angry at the time, though I do recall him saying one day I would thank him. Well, here I am, thanking him.
I have always been hard to capture in a recording. My heart shines through live and I am effortless and emotional, informed by the heart of the people before me. In a vocal booth, I am more self-aware, self-conscious, and less inspired. It has always been a challenge to try and capture my dynamics and range on tape. This is why we abandoned the studio in bulk on my first CD and recorded live at the Inner Change Coffee house. Twenty years later, I am not much better in the studio, so I decided to record live again for the people I really care about - my fans. I recorded a live show at The Standard in Nashville and fans came in from all over the world to be there at our swanky soiree. There was still some band stuff I wanted to cut, so I devised a plan to try and capture the spirit of live performance by cutting live in the studio with friends watching. We spent a week in a rehearsal studio working up arrangements for the song and then when it came time to record, the band and I all set up in one large room at the famous RCA-A building. Drums, bass, keys, steel, electric, and me on acoustic and singing. We set the loudest instruments the furthest from the mic and the softer instruments closest - basically creating a mix in the studio by the placement of our bodies relative to the microphones. The idea was to capture one whole live take of a song and be done with it. No overdubs, no layering tracks, no auto-tune or tricks. Just one live take - and it was a blast! It was emotional and raw and a little messy - but honest. That’s all I wanted. This is not a clever record. This record has no genre. It has no single that will be played at radio. It is raw, honest poetry that poured out of my bones and my soul. There are several six minute songs with no chorus. There are folk songs and country songs and songs that are just long poems set to music. I have no idea if it will sell one copy, but I love it and hope you will feel what was in my heart, trying to come out the only way I know how to - with the intense keening and passion and love life requires.
Mixing this CD took me a while to get it right. I tried to use very little compression and to let the dynamics of my voice express its full range, but it’s hard to go from a whipset to a groan to a scream within 8 bars and capture it with balance and EQ. The music was beautifully recorded and captured by engineer Jeff Baulding, who also engineered my This Way CD. My acoustic stuff was engineered by Erik Hellerman and the CD was mixed by the great Gary Paczosa.
The record has some full band tracks, some acoustic tracks with light coloring by the great Jonathan Yudkin, who played on my Lullaby and Merry Goes ‘Round CDs, and some solo acoustic live tracks as well. Overall, the feel is minimal, focusing on the singing, lyric, and emotion.
Because I did not make this record thinking of things like tempo and singles and because I am now a mom, I can’t imagine doing the six months of promo required to get on the airwaves. I looked for an indie label to partner with and eventually formed a partnership with Sugar Hill Records, a blue-grass label. They are lovely and committed to helping me put out a singer-songwriter record at the height of a market that is saturated with slick and upbeat songs on the pop and country side. Once again, I’m hoping that earnest and sincere can break through, though I am keenly aware that the work it takes to do so will be limited on my part because my first job is to be a mom and to be there for Kase
1. Love Used To Be
2. A Boy Needs A Bike
3. Everything Breaks
4. Family Tree
5. It Doesn't Hurt Right Now
6. His Pleasure Is My Pain
7. Here When Gone
8. The Shape Of You
9. Plain Jane
10. Pretty Face Fool
11. Nicotine Love
13. My Fathers Daughter