Californian babe good looks, a mellifluous voice and a down to earth attitude makes Jewel a rare gem indeed - a pop star with her feet firmly on the ground

Britain is long overdue to fall for the charms of Jewel. The Alaska- born 23-year-old has sold six million copies of an album that is now four years old, but the acoustic-guitar-twanging songbird with the Rolling Stone and Time covers and a heavy romance with Sean Penn behind her is still hit-free in Britain. For now. But it is only a matter of time before the Californian babe looks, sugar-frosted vocals and American hits like "Who Will Save Your Soul?" will be embraced the way Ms Morissette was.

Not that Jewel is aggressively ambitious. If her feet were more firmly planted on the ground, she'd take root. "The covers of Rolling Stone and Time, and the album hitting the six million mark - these things don't really mean too much," she insists, with a happy dismissiveness. "It's like being head cheerleader or something. What's great is that such a simple album (Pieces Of You, her second) could do well in the world, because it's really uncommercial. Alanis Morrissette's album is really slick, and it had a lot to do with the producer, which is alright, but I can only assume that people went for mine because of the rawness."

Pieces of You only took off after the former waitress undertook relentless touring. As well as the directness of her approach, it has been the lyrics of her songs that have brought fans in droves; songs like the raging "Daddy".

"Everybody wants to bash their dad's face in sometime," she explains. "It's also saying kids become what their parents tell them they are. I'm in a reality that I never thought I'd be in, where people say things like `What am I wearing?' It is fun, but I don't pretend I think this is normal."

Jewel's level-headedness means she doesn't need advice from older stars, and she probably wouldn't take it anyway. "The only advice I've taken has been from Bob Dylan and Neil Young. I supported Neil Young at Madison Square Garden. I was nervous going on facing people with an acoustic guitar, and thought it was suicide.

Neil said to me (drawls), `This is just another hash house on the road to respect - show no respect.' The sort of words that have made this Jewel a tough diamond indeed.

Jewel plays the Bloomsbury Theatre (0171-383 5976) tomorrow

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