Move over, Madonna. There’s a new club queen on the scene and her name is…Jewel. Last year a remix of “Serve the Ego,” off Jewel’s last disc, 2001 This Way, surprisingly hit No. 1 on the Billboard dance chart. Now the singer-songwriter kicks up her heels throughout her fifth album, forgoing her signature folk pop for rhythmic grooves and light electronica beats. The results of this extreme musical makeover, though, are mixed. On the first single, “Intuition,” Jewel, 29, seems like she’s trying desperately to keep up with the TRL generation; in fact, the track, with its hip-hoppish drum programming and quirky accordion part, sounds like a ripoff of teen-pop star Stacie Orrico’s recent hit “Stuck.” Meanwhile gauzy Euro-disco numbers like “Run 2 U” would better suit Kylie Minogue. Unusually mindless lyrics on some songs don’t help matters. “Old Spice is nice/ But sweat is better,” Jewel coos on the ’80s throwback “U &c Me=Love.” Still, Jewel effectively incorporates some new facets on 0304, adding Asian-influenced keyboards on the ambient opener “Stand” and muted trumpet on the jazz-kissed “Leave the Lights On.” She sparkles most, though, on “Doin’ Fine,” using her trademark acoustic guitars to create a jangle-pop effervescence that brings to mind the ’90s British group the Sundays.
BOTTOM LINE: Flawed Jewel