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Sweet and Wild – 2010 (Valory Music)

Reviewed by Tim Johnson

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CDs by Jewel

Jewel's latest offering sounds pretty good (it comes with both acoustic and electric versions), but it's certainly more pop than country - most of the songs are fast-paced, and there's nary a dulcimer, fiddle or steel guitar to be found. But that fact notwithstanding, there are still a couple of tear-jerker songs here that would make even Hank Williams himself cry. Take, for example, the deeply melancholy Bad As It Gets, the enigmatic and powerful Fading or What You Are, a song that includes a number of very sad scenes, including a teary exchange in a VA hospital between a dying Iraq War vet and his father.

But there's still plenty of the fun, cutie-pie fare that has made Jewel famous. Summer Home in Your Arms is an instantly likeable tune with a bouncy melody and sunny lyrics, while Stay Here Forever, is a song that may not stay with you forever, but it will definitely run through your head all day long. And , the album's finale and one of its radio cuts, is soulful and satisfying enough. "Sweet and Wild" might not be Jewel's best album ever, but it's a decent listen for even casual fans.