Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
On her sophomore effort, Spirit, Jewel wants to tell the world that she loves us, she really loves us. And she aims the record’s 13 tracks (plus hidden cheese) of New Age affection not just at the dandelion-crown-wearing softies, but at renegades and rapscallions, too: Each and every one of us is a “fragile flame” in Jewel’s world. Sure, it’s a chummy message and all, but the bulk of Spirit is so light and airy that it makes your average Celine Dion product play like Rammstein. However, when the 24-year-old Alaskan sheds her angel wings and pulls on a pair of grimy Levis, the album eventually takes hold: “Down So Long,” destined for hit-single status, benefits from boot-knockin’ percussion and a welcome vocal sneer, while “Do You,” a dusty shuffle in the Lyle Lovett tradition, takes some amusing potshots at guydom. Still, the teeth-aching feel-good vibe is so prevalent on Spirit”Hands” is complex, irresistible music with lyrics that could make Barney dry heavethat, despite her displays of vocal range and curious phrasing, Miss Kilcher ultimately offers up a clunker. This is a shame: Jewel’s debut, Pieces of You, came equipped with a legitimate dark side that played a coy game of hide-and-seek with the nubile folkie’s clever wit and pop sensibilities. Unfortunately, Spirit spends too much time on the meditation mat and all but ignores the real world.Sean Daly