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This Way
Atlantic Records

   Avoid this...please! Don't even get it as a prank on a friend. Would be poetess Jewel has unleashed the slickest, dullest record of the year (so far). The most interesting thing about it is that it's really a modern country album instead of the adult contemporary pop one would expect. Other than that, it's just BORING. The little girl whine gets old fast and becomes infuriating within fifteen minutes. Don't get me wrong. There are a couple of decent songs here. "Everybody Needs Someone Sometime" would make a great Shawn Mullins song. The overly reaching romance of "Break Me" could be done justice by kd lang. It's just that Jewel doesn't seem to be able to put any guts or twists on her own material. The only non-country based song is also the most interesting musically. "Serve The Ego" is built on a Middle Eastern beat and throbs along with a wash of electric guitars, but the song is trapped. It desperately wants to rock, but can't break free from the production shackles and lackluster vocals. The only thing worth hearing here is "Grey Matter." This was recorded live. With the intimacy of a girl, her guitar and an audience, it shines as the only honest feeling song in the whole collection. Download "Grey Matter" and listen for yourself. Other than that, be smart and don't go This Way. (1290 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10104)

 Chris McKay/concertshots.com