Atlantic - 2003 - 60 minutes
This year there's a new Jewel in fashion and record producers would be forgiven for wondering if this one is not quite so precious. In '0304' Jewel Kilcher offers up a blend of just about everything, from dance beats to soft rap and country-pop mixes. The result is an urban sell-out, little more than an attempt to jump on the fast moving and already overcrowded pop bandwagon.
'0304' doesn't settle easily on the ear. It tries to do far too much and ends up by achieving little. Its fifteen tracks are so diverse that the album progresses awkwardly, with uneven leaps between the songs. Think of the unique styles of Faith Hill, Madonna, Gwen Steffani, Avril Lavigne and Girls Aloud on the same album and you'll be there.
Start to finish, '0304' comes across as more of a homage to existing performers than a reflection of the true Jewel, who was involved in the writing of every single track. It gives the impression of emulation rather than creation - and therein lies the problem, more so than in Jewel's complete change of musical direction.
As a choice of first single 'Intuition' was a clever marketing decision. It is undoubtedly the best track on the album (despite its disturbing Eurovision resemblance) and the remainder doesn't quite live up to that upbeat quirky standard. In fact 'Stand' is the only other track that you could imagine hitting the charts.
Her proclamation of "I'm just a simple girl in a high-tech digital world" best sums this one up as there is far too much production and far too little Jewel. Although the vocals are strong, their meaning is undermined by a synthesised beat that seems to contradict any messages of a purer nature. An air of uncertainty clouds over tracks that could rest easier blended with similar material.
As pop tunes go, most of this fits the bill but pop probably isn't what fans of the former folk singer expect.
Tracklisting: Stand - Run 2 U - Intuition - Leave the Lights On - Find U - Fragile Heart - Doin Fine - 2 Become 1 - Haunted - Sweet Temptation - Yes U Can - U & Me = Love - America - Becoming - Intuition.