Concert Review: Jewel

The Smith Center, June 6

There was just a girl and her guitar. As part of her Greatest Hits Tour, Jewel appeared solo in a simple blue dress and cowboy boots, launching into “Near You Always.” “What do I feel like tonight?” she questioned, looking at a selection of guitars. Despite admitting only half her voice was working, the girl who was discovered in a coffee shop played off the audience’s requests.

Reminiscent of a VHI Storytellers session, the stripped-down set allowed for banter and an appreciation of the singer-songwriter’s message. As such, the evening did lag at times. Selections from her debut album Pieces of You included “Foolish Games” (in which she claimed to channel Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat”), “Morning Song” and “You Were Meant for Me.” (Co-writer Steve Poltz joined her onstage for the last one.) Jewel closed with “Who Will Save Your Soul” and a bit of hardcore yodeling for the encore. With a sound so pure, you wouldn’t have even known her voice wasn’t at 100 percent if she hadn’t mentioned it. ★★★☆☆

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Richard Butler’s thick and reedy, syllable-bending vocals partly define my rainy ’80s. I lived more than half that decade in the U.K., and the ubiquitous BBC Radio 1 followed punk as it slipped into more commercially viable, soft-serve New Wave. Butler put me happily back in my rusted-out Renault 14, bouncing down wet English lanes and singing along to “Heartbreak Beat” as it rattled out of my 20 watts.