JEWEL has never had a case of writer’s block; if need be, she can write on command. “I’m lucky for that,” the singer-songwriter says with a laugh, playing down the fact that over the past few decades she’s penned hundreds of poignant songs, many of which she’s been performing in concert for over two decades but has chosen not to record. Jewel knows that at this point in her life – after selling millions of albums and establishing herself as one of the most successful musicians of her generation – she could take many routes: she could wait on releasing a new album for years at a time, strictly choosing to perform live instead; or be satisfied she wrote a memoir, two children’s books and recorded a pair of successful children’s albums. That’s not Jewel though. Jewel remains a storyteller. The itches are ever-present to document her thoughts and perceptions in musical form.
Picking Up the Pieces, which Jewel describes as a “singer-songwriter’s record,” and one she hopes her influences, Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell and Rickie Lee Jones and mentors, Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard and Neil Young, would be proud of, is the project many have been waiting patiently to hear for years. With her vast and wide-ranging catalogue, which is rapidly approaching 1000 songs - all written over the last quarter century, Jewel has indeed become one of the premiere singer-songwriters of our time. Picking Up The Pieces features introspective looks into family with tracks like "Family Tree" and “My Father’s Daughter” – a stunning autobiographical collaboration with country legend Dolly Parton.
“I was trying to keep my mind quiet and honestly get back to something I feel like I’d lost touch with in my life,” she adds of the reflective LP. “It was really an exercise in shutting out fear. I was giving myself permission to be exactly who and what I was.”
To be sure, this is an album about self-awareness: namely, the way it affects our evolution, maturation and acceptance. “It really felt like returning to a part of me that I didn’t mean to lose, but with time and relationships and life and surviving and dealing you take on new things and not all of them are great,” she admits. The recording process for the album, which Jewel describes as a “very holistic process,” centered on “carving away things about myself and returning to a sense of myself that I really needed.”
The legendary singer didn’t come to this place easily, however – a rough childhood, a recent divorce and countless moments of introspection led her here. Still, as when she was a homeless teenager, hitchhiking the country and finding herself along the way, she persevered. These travails led to her authoring her 2015 memoir Never Broken: Songs are Only Half The Story instantly catapulting her to the New York Times bestseller list.