Jewel's confessional lyrics typically favor rustic idylls over dark recesses. However, the 35-year-old songwriter, who shares a Stephenville ranch with her former rodeo champion husband Ty Murray, clearly appreciates multilayered poetry. 'Townes (Van Zandt) was just a musician and an artist and a rolling stone who wrote some really lovely and unique songs,' she says. 'I don't think a standard songwriter would come up with "Pancho and Lefty!" ' Jewel performs tonight at One World Theatre.
American-Statesman: You were pretty young when you wrote 'Raven' (the opening track to 2008's 'Lullaby').
Jewel: That was one of the first songs I ever wrote. I was about 16. I had moved out when I was 15, which was a little stressful and exhilarating at the same time (laughs). So, I'd just write these songs to help myself calm down. It was almost like a prayer or meditation to help me sleep. And I've continued to do that. I've always written music like medicine to help myself in difficult times. Even when I became successful, I wrote songs to give me hope (laughs).
You've called 'Lullaby' a 'mood' album. Describe the mood.
I thought that if I'm an adult and I like adult lullabies, there must be other adults who would appreciate having something that you can come home and put on to relax. It's for when you want to be in a certain zone after a stressful day and you want to have a glass of wine. It's just a soothing album. I've had a lot of fans say they use it in rush-hour traffic to keep themselves calm (laughs).
Other songwriters like Dan Zanes and Kasey Chambers are making kids music geared toward adults, too. Did you draw on any others while making the record?
No, I didn't actually. For me, parents always have told me, 'I don't know what it is about your voice, but my kids are just so calmed down when they hear you sing.' I kind of looked to movies like 'Shrek' that work on two levels. They entertain adults and kids are enthralled by it.
You recorded and produced at home in Stephenville, right?
Yeah, this was my first independent release. It isn't a typically commercial album, you know. Nothing will get on the radio, but I think it has a lot of integrity and artistry.
Working at home must lend itself to the intimacy.
You know, it was really nice for me not to have to think about marketing or genres or if you have hits or not. It was a really liberating process that got to be pure creativity. I got to express myself really genuinely and without having to fit it into any sort of commercial bubble. It was really fun.
Have you wrapped up your next country album yet?
No, we just settled on a direction (laughs).
Has living in Texas influenced your songwriting perspective?
Not particularly. I was raised on a ranch in Alaska and was raised on some great singer-songwriters. Generally, some of the strongest singer-songwriters like Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynne came from country. Gram Parsons was unbelievable. That's what I set out to do, but I was never able to get my label to work anything toward country radio. Even 'You Were Meant for Me' I wanted to work for country.