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What's the story?
Jewel's fifth CD, 0304, is as sweet as can be. Perfect for lovesick adolescent girls with \"fragile hearts,\" the songs may induce insulin shock in the rest of the family. With co-producer Lester Mendez (known for working with Enrique Iglesias and Shakira), she infuses sincere lyrics and pure soprano vocals with a dance beat. Two tracks, \"Stand\" and \"America,\" offer gentle pleas for nonviolence and political activism. Most of the other songs express romantic longing, or self-validating cheerleader peppiness. Sexuality is suggestive and metaphorical, leaving the listener discreetly outside the bedroom door. \"Yes U Can\" provides the most light-hearted fun, evoking fanciful disco-in-an-alternate-universe images.
Is it any good?
Jewel's pop sound is energetic, but she takes few musical risks and is weak on originality, perhaps at the cost of appearing a bit like a Britney Spears/Madonna wannabe. The best moments are the most surprising ones: the lovely accordion solo at the beginning of "Intuition" and the good-natured creepiness of "Haunted" (Buffy fans take note). All in all, this is a slick, well-produced album by an apparently nice girl -- perhaps a bit too nice to pull off slick pop pretensions.
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