Jewel, "Sweet and Wild"

76 Billboard Rating

Two years after she got her twang on, Jewel is still a country girl on her latest album, "Sweet and Wild." But the artist steps a touch closer to the pop side than she did on 2008 set "Perfectly Clear." Fiddle, pedal steel and the occasional banjo flavor rather than define the 11 songs here, and the bare-bones acoustic versions on a second disc included in the album's deluxe version put Jewel right back into coffeehouse (or perhaps campfire) mode. The song "Summer Home in Your Arms" recalls her 1995 breakthrough hit, "You Were Meant for Me" (and, in fact, dates back to the same period), while "No More Heartaches" slyly but defiantly kisses off a man who's done her wrong. And the lushly drawn "Fading" mixes a moody ambience with a quiet sense of desperation. The set is more sweet than it is wild, but it finds an effective middle ground between the multiplatinum troubadour and the modern country songstress. --Gary Graff