Goodbye Alice in Wonderland

Studio Album by released in 2006
Goodbye Alice in Wonderland's tracklist:
Again and Again
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Long Slow Slide
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Goodbye Alice in Wonderland
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Good Day
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Satellite
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Only One Too
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Words Get in the Way
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Drive to You
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Last Dance Rodeo
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Fragile Heart
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Stephenville, TX
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Where You Are
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1000 Miles Away
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Goodbye Alice in Wonderland review

Jewel is running back to safe territory with Goodbye Alice in Wonderland

A contemporary folkie renowned for her expressive, crystalline voice, singer/songwriter Jewel was among the most successful of the many new female performers who dominated the pop charts throughout the 1990s. The last time listeners encountered Jewel, the famously sensitive singer/songwriter had just performed an extreme makeover on herself, refashioning herself as a dance-pop diva on 2003's 0304. Artistically, it worked against all odds, and it did pretty well on the charts too, debuting at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, but her fans didn't necessarily warm to it, and three years later, Jewel is running back to safe territory with 2006's Goodbye Alice in Wonderland. Along with a coterie of Nashville pros, she began her latest musical journey by laying down another introspective song cycle in the vein of 1995's Pieces of You. Dissatisfied with the results, the Texas-based artist scrapped that effort and re-recorded with Rob Cavallo (who has produced records for Michelle Branch and the Goo Goo Dolls, along with every Green Day album since 1995's Nimrod). This lends her sixth album the expected rock edge, but Jewel hasn't changed her spots. If anything, she sounds more like, well, Jewel than she did on dance-oriented departure 0304.

Jewel’s Joni Mitchell-esque soprano soars as high as ever

Goodbye Alice in Wonderland is emotionally raw, and surprisingly searching. Jewel's sixth album is written and sequenced as a chronological exploration of her rags-to-riches journey from a ranch in Alaska to big, bad Los Angeles and back. While there are upbeat interludes – the breezy Again and Again is awash in her trademark romanticism – the album boasts a notable number of glimpses through a jagged and cracked looking glass. On the bittersweet Long Slow Slide, for starters, she spins a poignant tale, rife with circus imagery, about the price of stardom. The acoustic guitars that accompany her on that tune are ubiquitous here. Sometimes – as on Stephenville TX, a brow-furrowing denunciation of celebrity culture – they chafe with the rough edges of old-school protest folk. But more often, Jewel conjures sonic solace, as on Fragile Heart, a gentle pulse of a song recalling her earliest hits, and the wounded Satellite, which takes a detour through the seedy back alleys that run behind Hollywood's glitzy boulevards. Her Joni Mitchell-esque soprano soars as high as ever, with more of a sardonic Dylan chaser than before. What's changed is that maturity has granted Jewel, now in her early 30s, greater perspective and a sense of humor missing from her more earnest early work.

Goodbye Alice in Wonderland is Jewel's strongest album yet

With Goodbye Alice in Wonderland Jewel delivered her most personal and autobiographical record so far. Not content to relegate herself to a traditional music arena, or to be typecast, Jewel has established herself as a culturally significant and relevant brand. Author, songwriter, actress, poet – there are no limits to how Jewel can and will deliver her message. As a piece of music and as a coherent set of songs, Goodbye Alice in Wonderland is Jewel's strongest yet. Assisted by Rob Cavallo she has created her most sonically appealing record, one that has plenty of different shades and textures. While the subject matter is often dark, Jewel manages to home in on her characters' humanity and the glimmers of hope that illuminate their perilous situations, rather than send them down the rabbit hole. And that spark of real storytelling gives Goodbye Alice in Wonderland the sort of sunset radiance that's easy to sit back and bask in. These are tight, sturdy, melodic songs that are among her most memorable. Goodbye Alice in Wonderland may have an entirely different feel and intent than its glitzy predecessor, but like 0304, it is proof that even if Jewel doesn't have as high a profile, or perhaps as large an audience, as she did in 1996, she's a better songwriter and record-maker than she was at the outset of her career.