Album Review

Jewel, 'Sweet and Wild'

June 7, 2010

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On paper, country music should be right in the wheelhouse of acoustic-slinging yodeler Jewel. But the timbre of her voice (and husband Ty Murray’s rodeo career) notwithstanding, “Sweet and Wild’’ doesn’t reveal any special affinity for the genre. Instead, Jewel offers basic country tropes both musical (twanging Telecasters, whining fiddles, banjoes bubbling underneath the surface, train-track rhythms) and lyrical (with references to both Wal-Mart and a dying soldier imparting wisdom) in the hopes of rousing the market base she first courted on 2008’s “Perfectly Clear.’’ Worse, her pop sensibilities fail her even as she apes Taylor Swift as closely as possible, singing about love stories and fairy tales in “I Love You Forever’’ and “Fading,’’ the tale of a crazy person dragged naked from a Wal-Mart, from the crazy person’s perspective. Jewel also tries out songs suited to Keith Urban (“Ten,’’ “One True Thing’’) and Carrie Underwood (“Bad As It Gets,’’ “No More Heartaches’’), making “Sweet and Wild’’ sound like she rummaged through the reject piles on Music Row. But no, with one exception, she wrote the songs, which aren’t improved in the acoustic versions included in the deluxe edition as a bonus disc called “Sweet and Mild.’’ At least Jewel knows how to describe her music.(Out tomorrow) MARC HIRSH

ESSENTIAL “No Good in Goodbye’’