In the mid-'90s, coffee-house culture was growing faster than tech stocks, folk music was reinventing itself for the alt-rock generation, and poetry slams were all the rage. From this milieu emerged Jewel, a yodeling Barbie doll with a voice like Joni Mitchell and a knack for converting her overly caffeinated teen angst into somber, beautifully sung pop songs that were ridiculously naive.
Jewel had a compelling back story. She was raised by her father in a house without indoor plumbing in Homer, Alaska, and when money was tight and jobs were scarce, she and her old man would sing in saloons. It was the sort of thing most girls her age were used to hearing from their grandmothers, and it gave the teenaged singer of wistfully introspective ballads the gravitas missing in her songs.
Now in her early 30s, the youthful naiveté that made Jewel so appealing seems less authentic. Her latest CD, Goodbye Alice in Wonderland, finds her standing at the corner of Donnie and Marie, a little bit country, a little bit rock-and-roll, and a lot of pop boilerplate. But her voice has developed more grit since the coffee-house '90s when Pieces of You hit the charts, and it makes even the singer's most awkwardly written confessions worth a second listen.
Jewel, Saturday, September 2nd, 8 p.m. at Horseshoe Casino, $50