Hi again all,
For this month's free Club EDA downloads, we explore the title song to Jewel's 6th album, Perfectly Clear, which was also her first for The Valory Music Company, an imprint label under the Big Machine umbrella. Just seven months after the fledgling country music label's 2007 launch, Perfectly Clear would provide Valory their first #1 album and expose Jewel to a whole new legion of country music fans.
When the album came out, I recall some heated discussion about "Jewel going country," when country had always figured strongly in her music. In addition to the many examples found in her songwriting catalogue, Jewel often expressed her desire to record a country album. She even did so during one of her highest profile Rolling Stone cover interviews, but it still seemed to catch many by surprise. Yours truly was asked about this very subject by a correspondent for the L.A. Times right around the time Perfectly Clear was released. (This article remains online here.) I'm far less articulate when speaking, but in that interview I tried to emphasize that Jewel had always written country flavored material. I less successfully attempted to convey that she doesn't perceive musical genres as boundaries or limitations and that each new album is substantially different from its predecessors. Plain and simple, its not easy to pin Jewel down. She tends to explore whatever form of music happens to tickle her fancy at any given time. Veteran EDAs and those who've caught various concert tours over the years are well aware of this diversity in her work (and embrace and encourage it), but many in the music industry, quite a few journalists and indeed some fans have had difficulty coming to grips with such wide ranging musical pursuits. But back to the song at hand...
In terms of country music as a root element in Jewel's early songwriting, one would be hard pressed to find a better example than the song "Perfectly Clear." Despite not being issued until that 2008 album, the song dates back to the dawn of Jewel's career, when she was a 19 year old songwriter just starting out on the San Diego coffeehouse circuit. The first known performance was at an August 1993 InnerChange Coffeehouse gig and she recorded a demo the following month. That early demo was indeed labeled as "Perfectly Clear," but for years everyone knew it as "Studies In Love #12," which was how Jewel often introduced it at concerts.
Another of her early character study songs, "Perfectly Clear" explores the demise of a relationship. Jewel prefaces this month's download audio with a brief introduction about writing it, so I'll let that convey her motivational process. It would come and go from her live repertoire, often disappearing for years at a time, before she finally decided to tackle a definitive studio version. When it turned up as the closing and title track of her Perfectly Clear album in 2008, the arrangement had developed considerably. Instead of the simple acoustic guitar instrumentation she had always relied on, the album version had a more elaborate arrangement based around piano and viola (much like Foolish Games) and with a full band on board as the song progressed. I personally found the album arrangement quite compelling, especially Jonathan Yudkin's contributions on viola, and wasn't surprised when it became the album's title song. As much as I enjoyed the new arrangement and thought the studio musicians greatly enhanced the song, I also still find undeniable charm in the way Jewel performs it in concert - accompanied only by her acoustic guitar. .
For this months free download, we'll be listening to "Perfectly Clear" in its original solo acoustic form, recorded just a few weeks ago during Jewel's return visit to San Diego at the beautiful outdoor venue Humphreys By The Bay. The lo-res snapshots at the top and bottom of this page are both from this performance. A much nicer hi-res photo of Jewel in action, shot that same night by renowned photographer West Kennerly, is also included for you, as are Jewel's handwritten lyrics to the song.
If you are already a registered member of jeweljk.com, simply log in to the community area and help yourself to the free files here. If you are not yet registered, please register first here. Its free and easy. If you experience any technical difficulty, don't hesitate to ask for help at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’ve missed any of our previous Club EDA downloads, all of them are still available, so you can help yourself to those files as well. For details on the previous downloads, you can access my previous blogs about them by clicking "Alan." In regards to our free downloads, we respectfully request that rather than share the free files elsewhere, that you do Jewel the favor of instead sharing the link to join her free Club EDA community, so that others can download the free files themselves. Please spread the word rather than the files and help Jewel build her online community. You can read her thoughts on this here.
Recorded live at Humphreys By The Bay in San Diego, California on September 7, 2012, enjoy this most recent live performance of "Perfectly Clear" as this month's free Club EDA download. Alan