Jewel is a young woman that is incredibly talented

Blue Line

The words to Jewels songs are
touching on an emotional level

Jewel: Live At Humphrey's By The Bay

One of my personal favorite music genres is the singer-songwriter, those talented people that have the ability to completely express themselves though their own songs. My wife and I used to enjoy concerts of such performers as Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. I thought this type of performer had become almost extinct, over come by the prefabricated pop stars so popular today. Thankfully there is a resurgence of the singer than can stand before an audience and relate using their own words and music. At the forefront of this revival is without a doubt Jewel Kilcher, better known simply as Jewel. ‘Jewel: Live At Humphrey's By the Bay’ is her latest DVD concert and in a word, it is spectacular.

Here is a young woman that is incredibly talented. The words to her songs are touching on an emotional level. Sure, many are geared more towards a female demographic but even us less enlightened men can be completely entertained. Jewel opens her concert with an aria, Per La Gloria d'Adorari , now realistically; can any Brittany or Christiana pull that off? The control that she has over her voice is amazing. Here is a performer that is as comfortable with opera as she is with yodeling. Speaking of the yodeling, there remains just a little hint of this vocal technique in her normal singing voice that adds an interesting touch to each song. Her vocal range goes from a husky low to crisp, clear high notes. It seems rare today for a performer to be able to sing so well without any remixing or other electronic enhancements. With Jewel the audience gets a voice that comes deep from the heart, a very personal vocal style that draws you into the performance.

There is true poetry to her lyrics. She has published a book or two of her poetry showing she at least puts some effort into the meaning behind what she sings about. You can tell by the way the audience reacts that this work has not gone unappreciated. As with most people that write their own songs Jewel sings from her own experiences, her personal pains and joys are woven together with subtle melodies creating songs that have lasting power. As I watched the concert I couldn’t fail to notice the intensity of the audience. They stood mesmerized by the performance, allowing the experience to wash over them. There is no screaming or yelling the lyrics here, Jewel respects her own words and the audience enough to enunciate the lyrics, knowing that part of her music is the meaning of what is being said. Considering so many artists now seem to feel that if you are louder you are better it is refreshing to listen to songs that can be enjoyed as poetry as well as music.

The set is simple, just a stage, musicians in the background and this 5’ 6" young woman in a spotlight. The crew working the spot lights must be thankful. While other performers feel obliged to hop around the stage in a frantic explosion Jewel stands there, plays her guitar and sings. The emphasis here is the music and the performer without the need for glitz and glamour. There are no light shows, no backup dancers, just the presentation of real musical talent. Jewel is dressed for this event in a pair of well worn jeans and top; knowing that no fancy costumes can make a show like she wants to provide. Admittedly, as my wife like to tease me about, Jewel is easy on the eyes. There is something intriguing about her famous crooked tooth that just adds to her realism. While the audience shown here is predominately female I don’t think the ladies had much trouble getting their husbands and boyfriends to accompany them to the show.

Jewel did not have an easy life before success found her. Living in her car she managed to earn a small living singing in coffee houses. While many singers have humble beginnings Jewel seems to appreciate how life has turned out for her. She has kept in touch with the fans that made her a success. In one scene is the DVD she pretend to have forgotten the lyrics to a song and brings a young woman from the audience up on stage to whisper the words in her ear as she sings. This connection with her fans is endearing, Jewel appreciates those that enjoy her work and buys her albums. Although the venue was rather large there was an undeniable connection forged between performer and audience. As she stands there, center stage, it is like she is back in the little coffee houses singing for her supper.

This is one of the best concert DVDs I have ever had the pleasure to watch. While most people may not be familiar with Eagle Vision USA, they show they know how to produce a DVD. The audio is presented in Dolby 5.1 and DTS. While the 5.1 mix is excellent the DTS track reaches above and beyond the call. It is a rich, full sound stage with amazing channel separation. There is a fullness to the audio that presents Jewels voice and accompanying music as if you where actually there. While not the type of disc that needs a sub woofer it does become active a few times to underscore the lower frequencies. The rear speakers give a realistic ambience to the presentation. The video is full screen but extremely well done. Even in the darker scenes there is no blurring or breakup of the colors. The images are crisp with a complete lack of digital artifacts. You can just turn off the lights, put this disc in your player and relax for 84 minutes and let the experience flow over you.

Typical of concert DVDs each chapter stop is a separate song in her play list. There are three bonus live songs, Love Me, Just Leave Me Alone, Do You Want To Play and Jesus Loves You. The disc contains several music videos, not the ones you see on the music channels but her songs playing underneath footage of her preparing for the concert. One novel extra is a video jukebox mode. Here you can select the songs and order for the performance. Add to this an interesting interview and a video dairy of life on the road and you have something worthwhile. This is an excellent buy for music lovers of all ages.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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