Jewel Recording 'Pieces'-Inspired Album

Troy Jensen

Jewel launches a crowdfunding campaign to bring fans to Nashville to watch her "make a record that is really pure and me" … The singer-songwriter also tells Billboard she's writing an autobiography

Jewel's next album will be a companion piece to her 12-times platinum 1995 debut "Pieces of You," "kind of like 'Harvest' and 'Harvest Moon' were for Neil (Young)," she tells Billboard.

"Pieces," produced by the late Ben Keith and recorded at Young's Northern California ranch, mixed live-on-the-floor band tracks with solo recordings by Jewel and also solo performances in front of an audience, which can be heard, subtly, on several of the songs. Jewel is pursuing the new album the same way, producing it herself with plans to include some songs she'll play in front of her Every Day Angels fan community on March 21 at The Standard in Nashville.

"I've just always sung better live," says Jewel, who's also recording at the famed RCA A studio in Nashville. "There's certain songs that, when I do them in front of an audience it brings out an emotion in me that I don't get just sitting in a studio."

She's currently "sifting" through about 40 songs -- including "Carnivore, "Everything Breaks," "Passing Time," "My Father's Daughter" and others that she's played live in the past -- and hopes to work on at least 12 in the various recording approaches for the album.

"What's difficult with this record is that when I made 'Pieces of You' I didn't know about the business," says Jewel, who's turned down some recent label offers and is planning to release the new album herself. "I didn't know about radio, what was commercial, what was country or pop. I was just myself. So what I've been making myself do is forget everything I know and not think about genres. I don't want to think about singles and don't want to do anything that's smart business. I want to forget it all and make a record that is really pure and is me. I'm just going to make what's in my soul. I'm in a position to do that, so I'd be an idiot not to do that."

As part of the recording plan Jewel has launched a GoFundMe campaign to bring two Every Day Angels to the show in Nashville. Two winners, one from Nashville and one from Brazil, were chosen after fans submitted videos; the campaign, which will be active until March 10, has raised a little more than half of its $3,000 goal.

"If we do better than our goal, then maybe we'll bring in some more," Jewel says.

Jewel hopes to release the album during the fourth quarter or in early 2015, along with an autobiography she's also working on.

"I've never done a book documenting my life or my story," says Jewel, who's written two books of poetry and a 2000 collection of diary entries and philosophical essays called "Chasing Down the Dawn." "I've been talking to so many audiences in my career, and people are like, 'How did you go from being homeless to beating the odds?' So I'm going to write about that and be very specific and tell that story in a way I haven't before."