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CD Review: Jewel’s Goodbye Alice in Wonderland

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The music industry is populated by several different breeds of artist: musicians who find their niche or hit making formula and stick with it, those who base career decisions on pop culture trends, and still others whose creative expression evolves — be it natural or forced — regardless of the machine’s influence.   Then there is Jewel, an artist whose style seems between cycle from homespun simplicity and glamour puss pageantry: except with this most recent outing, Goodbye Alice in Wonderland, we’ve caught her mid-circuit.

While Jewel’s physical appearance is firmly entrenched in the prosaic innocence displayed in her first and third album photos, the tracks from Alice uneasily vacillate between the folk-pop, acoustics of Pieces of You/This Way, and 2003’s techno-sleek, 0304.  Undoubtedly Jewel has grown, with little to none of the maudlin angst showcased on Pieces of You and Spirit, delving further into the maturity of a woman in her thirties with the wistful lyrics of those such as the title track; or the playful, no nonsense attitude displayed in “Good Day,” “Satellite,” and “Stephenville, TX.”

The problem with Alice is a case of the music overwhelming the lyrics in most of the album’s songs.  A perfect example can be found in the rerecording of “Fragile Heart,” originally featured on 0304.  While the musical arrangement was more “club” oriented in the original release, it was also subtle enough to provide the velvet backdrop necessary to make Jewel’s charming words and mellifluous alto sparkle.  Even the addictive cadence of the first single, “Again and Again,”  isn’t enough to redeem overall weakness when the LP is taken as a whole.

Rather than promoting the her talents, Goodbye Alice in Wonderland buries its creator’s voice in dissonant overproduction.

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