November 3, 2009
Better Than: Having to actually live the '90s all over again.
It must be terribly difficult for a singer to be inextricably linked to a particular decade, especially when said singer begins to realize that nothing they do will ever be as big or as bestselling or as widely embraced as what they did to make a name for themselves in the first place.
Such must be the case for Jewel, whose 1995 LP Pieces of You not only became one of the '90s most identifiable albums; it was one of the decade's all-time bestsellers.
Well, it's been a long time since "Who Will Save Your Soul" and "You Were Meant for Me" and "Foolish Games" dominated the airwaves. And it's highly unlikely Jewel will ever again sell 12 million copies of a record right outta the gate. That's not to say there haven't been some semi notable successes since then -- 1998's "Hands" (from Spirit), '01's "Standing Still" (from This Way), a book here (Chasing Down the Dawn), and a dance hit there ("Serve the Ego"). But in many respects Jewel seems destined to be the girl who sang a certain set of songs way back when.
Which is why it was tremendously inspiring to see Jewel show up at the Fillmore Gleason with nothing but three guitars and a vase of flowers, and then dive into a set of songs that had very little to do with the way back machine. Oh sure, she did do "Hands," of course, and a relatively speedy "Standing Still." And I'm sure she eventually sang those blockbuster hits of hers too. But we didn't stick around to hear yesterdays; we were quite content thank you to take Jewel as she is right this minute.
And you know what? Jewel is even more rewarding now than she ever was during the days when she was tied down to doing what was expected of her. From the moment she stepped on stage and delivered an a capella "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (from this year'sLullaby
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) till the close of the last chord in "Break Me" (when we left), Jewel was more confidant, more entertaining, and in stronger voice than perhaps she's ever been before. And I tell ya, it was an utter delight to sit amid the opulence of The Fillmore Gleason and listen to a woman who has fully and completely outgrown being a girl.
Personal Bias: I caught Jewel in Chicago at the height of her fame, and there's no comparison between the budding starlet that she once was and the full-fledged singer she's become.
Random Detail: Oddly, more than a few women who seem to be approaching a certain age cat-called throughout the whole of Jewel's set. They should definitely know better.
By the Way: Don't bother ranting about my leaving before the hits got served, because it won't stop me from believing that Jewel deserves to be taken as she is now instead of how she was then. So there.