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Jewel: Picking Up the Pieces

Track List

>Love Used to Be
>Boy Needs a Bike, A
>Everything Breaks
>Family Tree
>It Doesn't Hurt Right Now
>His Pleasure Is My Pain
>Here When Gone
>Shape of You, The
>Plain Jane
>Pretty Faced Fool
>Nicotine Love
>My Father's Daughter

Album Notes

Picking Up the Pieces contains a not-so-subtle allusion to the title of Jewel's 1995 debut Pieces of You. Twenty years later, the singer/songwriter is acknowledging how she's strayed from the folky fragility of her beginnings and is now ready to reconnect with her roots, going so far as to sign with folk label Sugar Hill for Picking Up the Pieces. Over the course of this hour-long effort, Jewel does find some space for guests -- Rodney Crowell shows up on "It Doesn't Hurt Right Now," Dolly Parton on "My Father's Daughter" -- and there are gentle accouterments like moaning sitars, full rhythm sections, and gliding pianos, all arrangements that are felt more than heard. Despite these gentle touches, Picking Up the Pieces feels unadorned but not necessarily simple. Often, it's possible to feel the weight of the two decades dividing Pieces of You and Picking Up the Pieces, usually in the loss of Jewel's naivete. On her debut, she felt youthful and instinctive, but on this, her 12th album, she relies on craft, sculpting the songs so they recall a younger version of her. This tactic has its drawbacks -- usually lyrical, with the "you like to read scientific magazines like Vanity Fair/there was a well-written article about serotonin in there" on the sweetly cynical "Plain Jane" typifying her heavy-handed touch -- but melodically she's a stronger writer now than she was then and a better recordmaker, too. All those naïve rough edges were ingratiating on Pieces of You, but they'd seem affected on a mature Jewel, so her decision to return to the form but not the sensibility of her earlier music is what makes Picking Up the Pieces a successful neo-comeback. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine


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