Jonathan Keefe’s observation about Jewel’s country-music debut, Perfectly Clear, is right on the money. Remove the subtle pedal-steel flourishes of second single “I Do” and the song wouldn’t sound out of place on any other Jewel album (aside from maybe 0304—and even then all the song would need is a slightly different arrangement, as the inclusion of that album’s Guy Chambers collab “2 Become 1” on Perfectly Clear proves). The banjo-infused “Stronger Woman” had a decent showing on the country charts, but with its lilting melody and pulsing beat, there’s no reason “I Do” can’t do equally well on both the country and pop charts. Its chances are slim though: It’s been five years since Jewel has scored a pop hit. The music video might help. The clip finds Jewel walking randomly into a dusty roadside diner and, in an audacious display of forthrightness, sauntering over to an unsuspecting, almost completely unresponsive cowboy (played by real-life boyfriend and former rodeo cowboy Ty Murray, pictured above), whispering in his ear, inviting herself to sit down at his table, caressing his finger and strutting all around the room until he follows her outside. “We will succeed,” she sings with gritty determination. And just when you think Jewel is going to completely reveal her mid-afternoon slut and take the cowboy home, she lures him into a game of chicken—a metaphor for taking the plunge. After all, “love is a game,” she says. And heaven/marriage is apparently a picnic blanket in a grassy field at sunset:
This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.