Jewel a “Stronger Woman” in country music

With apologies to Ace and

Marcia Brady Maureen McCormick, I’m going to be honest: In general,
I can’t stand popular country music. It comes from growing up
in a farming community, mixed with memories of farm boys driving super-sized
trucks up and down the parking lots for fun. (I do like Bonnie
, who is generally considered a country singer, for her music and politics. But even that was spoiled,
back when she showed up at a Lilith Fair and brought her fans.
When I say two worlds collided, that’s literally; my then girlfriend
and I almost got jumped outside the port-a-janes. Yeah, ugly.)

All of that considered, I really
think I’ll be buying a country CD at some point this year. That’s
because Jewel — yes, that
— has made a
country album

called Perfectly Clear, due out in June.

She’s already charting the country
markets. Her nicely titled new single called “Stronger Woman”
scored the Hot Shot Debut at No. 50 on Hot Country Songs this week.
You can hear it on her MySpace page.

I wasn’t a Jewel fan the first
time I heard “Who Will Save Your Soul”; I’ll admit to that
as well. But then I heard her live. (Probably also at a
Lilith Fair. That’s where I spent the 1990s.) Jewel is
one of those artists who emote live in a way that is impossible to translate
to recordings. Plus, she can yodel. Seriously.
It was pretty amazing to hear.

In case it’s been as long for
you as it has for me, here’s the video for “Hands,” which was always
one of my favorites by her.

Hmm. A little depressing,
a little spiritual, and just next door to rootsy. Yeah, I can
see the jump to country music. I think I’ll have to give the new
album a shot.