As she tends to four-week-old son Kase Townes Murray and prepares for the release of her second family music album, "The Merry Goes 'Round," Jewel says she's enjoying a break from the usual grind of her career.
"I just put things on hold," Jewel, who released her second country album, "Sweet and Wild," in 2010, tells Billboard.com. "I decided to have the baby and have the freedom to do whatever I wanted, be a stay-at-home mom for as long as I wanted. I didn't want to have the pressure on me of, 'Oh, in two months I have to get back to the studio.' So I didn't want to book things ahead of time.
"The great thing for me, and my husband (champion rodeo rider Ty Murray) feels the same way, is we've been successful in our careers. What's the point of that success if you can't take advantage of it at a time like this and enjoy being a parent. It's a rare gift we want to take advantage of and not worry about what to do next."
Jewel fans won't be going without new music from her, however. "The Merry Goes 'Round," out Aug. 16 on iTunes and in September nationwide on the Fisher-Price Music Series label, features 16 largely original songs, plus covers of "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain," "Oh! Susanna," "And the Green Grass Grows All Around" and "The Sound of Music" favorite "My Favorite Things." Unlike 2009's "Lullaby," which was comprised of songs Jewel had stockpiled, she wrote most of her new material specifically for "The Merry Goes 'Round," with, she says, "the goal of trying to write a record my son would love."
"I've got a lot of freedom with these" family albums, Jewel says. "I can write what I feel like. They don't have to be a certain genre or anything, really. I don't have to think about singles or airplay. That's liberating in a lot of ways. I just thought about things I'd like my son to learn -- going into a room and using your imagination, not to be afraid of the dark, little lessons like that. So it's definitely a different mindset and creatively very fulfilling."
Jewel recorded the album with multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Yudkin, Patrick Davis and Green Day touring member Jason Freese, who co-produced "Lullaby." She's contemplating some appearances in October to promote the album and is also planning to turn some of the songs into children's books, most likely starting with "Sara Swan Sleep Head."
"The cool thing about this album and ('Lullaby') is that it's not the traditional model of, 'We want to sell a million albums up front,' " Jewel notes. "They look at it as a 10-year plan. 'Lullaby' is almost at half a million records (sold) with no promotion. It's a fun model. It doesn't take a lot of promotion or massive tours of duty out there. You can do one or two things and the record hopefully sells itself by word of mouth."