There have always been numerous facets to Jewel's luster.
There have always been numerous facets to Jewel's luster. Even her most commercial outings offer multiple textures, with deceptively simple melodies belying messages that extend beyond the hooks. This Way is the 27-year-old singer/songwriter's most ambitious effort yet, illustrating her desire to take on the world's societal and political ills and color them with a variety of stylistic hues: There's cowpoke country, folk, rich balladry, blues, even a whimsical turn at ballsy rock. The 14 tracks are highlighted by the gorgeous first single, "Standing Still," in which she sings about liking a guy—but what's she's talking about is stepping out and embracing life. Other standouts are the coffeehouse anthem "Everybody Needs Somebody Sometime," the lilting "Break Me," and the rugged "Serve the Ego," a tale of subservient love. This Way is not as accessible to the masses as previous albums, but this jewel doesn't need to be so polished to glitter.—CT