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Fourth Time's A Charm

JewelIt took three albums for Jewel to convince us that she's an earnest woman with a message and a guitar. Now, forget about it. With the Atlantic's release of "0304," this girl just wants to have fun. The 14-song set finds the heady singer/songwriter relinquishing her folk/pop roots to explore electronic beats and uptempo melodies, taking her out of coffeehouses and onto the dancefloor.

"I've always been considered a very serious artist," says Jewel, 28. "This is my pop culture record. The world is complicated and hard, and people want to be able to lose themselves in the rhythm. People want to feel young and sexy and smart; and like things are OK -- including me. That is the only image I had writing these songs. This is a happy record."

Jewel called on Lester Mendez -- who has worked with Shakira, Santana, and Enrique Iglesias -- to collaborate through the process of songwriting, arranging, and producing the album. First single "Intuition," which is No. 30 on Billboard's Hot 100, gives listeners a clear indication of Jewel's new stylistic gleam. The song opens with an accordion and rallies like a gypsy carnival, with an army of marching beats and creamy layers of harmony coming from behind.

"I found a way to use beats that suits me," Jewel says. "Now, I see that it's like being a painter who says they will never use red or yellow. Why limit yourself that way?" She adds, "I intend to work with Lester for the rest of my life. I can't tell you how powerful a musician he is."