Not only does Jewel explore new sounds on her latest album, “0304,” she also wows her audience with an updated — and sexy — look.
It’s early morning in California and over the phone, the sounds of a teaspoon being twirled in a coffee mug can be heard. “This has been hilarious,” Jewel giggled, laughing at how absurd everyone’s reaction has been to her new look. The new look, of course, is the one she unveiled with her latest album, “0304.” In the album’s first video, for “Intuition,” the buxom prairie queen vamps into a bombshell siren — complete with wet T-shirt, suspenders and spangled HotPants.
In the three months since the video and album’s release, she’s been seen working similar, if not slightly toned-down, looks during press events and concerts — a skintight, strapless black leather dress for the Divas Las Vegas red-carpet arrivals and later, a sparkling silver Roberto Cavalli number onstage, or a candy pink-and-brown-striped strapless mini for a PepsiSmash appearance.
But for Jewel, it never was a question of hanging up her Birkenstocks in favor of Blahniks, her faithful acoustic guitar for a beatbox. It was just time for a change. “Change is natural and healthy,” she said. “I think that the artist who can have a 50-year career is going to experiment and I’m so lucky that I have a fan base that encourages it.” As evidence, the debut numbers for “0304” outpaced any of her previous albums.
“I’ve had people say that I did this just to sell records, which is funny because my label [Atlantic] pretty much thought it was the opposite, that I’d ruin my fan base,” she laughed.
But even more than that, she earnestly sees herself as an unlikely pop icon. “Look at how I look, it’s kind of funny,” she said. “I have crooked teeth and a bump on my nose.” As if those two small flaws could detract from a gorgeous body, heart-shaped face and long, blonde hair. And for the record, many see her signature snaggle tooth more as a sexy quirk.As for getting all dolled up for the cameras, she was quick to note that she’s worn miniskirts and stilettos before. But things are different now than when she first broke onto the scene in 1995 with the hit, “Who Will Save Your Soul.” “I’ve usually been really uptight, frankly,” she said about shooting videos. “Before, I think I was younger, less confident — about my body, about what it meant to put your body onto tape. I was so used to hiding behind a guitar.
“By this album, I’m 29 years old. I’m just more confident, and it really showed. It was just campy and playing around.”
This time around, she’s shakin’ it in Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana and a teeny black Dior bra. Fashion is in her periphery, but she still knows what she likes. “I love Roberto Cavalli. I’ve been wearing a lot of Cavalli for a long time,” she said. “I just think he’s a consistently great designer. I have a lot of fun. I feel like it’s rock ’n’ roll, but feminine.” And the love goes both ways. The designer is ecstatic over Jewel’s image change. “Her style transformation from that of an earthy bohemian to a fashion diva mirrors the evolution of her new sound. Now her music is very pop, and you can dance to it,” he said.
Another person who’s enjoying this change of pace is Jewel’s stylist, Jessica Paster. And while Jewel jokes that she never lets her stylist do her job, Paster thinks she’s got it better than most stylists in the industry. “Jewel makes it easier for me because she’s the kind of gal that I don’t need to bring in seven racks of clothing for — that frustrates her,” she says.
But Paster chafes when people suggest that this new look is a transformation. “When I started working with her five years ago, she was already wearing Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci,” Paster argued. “It’s always had a little bit of sexiness to it. We’re just using color instead of jeans and a tiny top — we’re showing more leg, but that’s what the trend in fashion is right now.”There is one trend with which Jewel definitely wants to follow through. “I’m loving high-waisted pants,” she said. “I’ve been trying to get Jessica to do it for a year with me but she’s refused. Luckily, designers are getting into it so she can’t deny me anymore.”
But, as any smart cookie who has an eye on longevity would say about sound and style, Jewel said, “It may change again — but I’m enjoying it right now.”
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