Album: Jewel

0304, Atlantic
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The Independent Culture

Jewel Kilcher used to be the poster-girl of the American women's folk-music scene, selling millions of albums of achingly sincere, furrow-browed folkie plaints to an audience of cosmetic-free, quilting-bee Lilith Fair-ies. Ah, but she was so much older then, she's younger than that now. Or such, at least, appears to be the message of 0304, which involves a brazen Britneyfication of both her sound and her attitude. The sleeve shows how things have changed chez Jewel: there's the candy-pop tones, the thrusting bosom, the bare midriff, and all trace of her former hippie persona ruthlessly excised. Listen to the songs, and it's soon clear the same applies to her former caring, sharing attitude: when she asks, in "2 Find U" "Has our love been built on lies?", the answer has to be in the affirmative. The closest she comes to the social concern of previous releases is the routine hand-wringing of "Stand" and the grand folly of "America", a meaningless state-of-the-nation address. Instead, she seems more interested in media discussion of the relative size of J-Lo's and Kate Moss's rears ("Intuition"), and in celebrating the carefree ignorance of youth ("Doin' Fine"). Sadly, she's no Britney: when she attempts supposedly sexy vamping in "Haunted", the results are clumsy and laborious, rather than erotic. But how could they be otherwise, given the suddenness of her volte-face?