The Lilith Fair boom of the mid 90s was the first and most important musical moment to grip me, and so it's been such a pleasure over the last year to hear the pop stars of that time come back with music that recalls their best work as well as shows how they've grown. Below are four excellent new singles by familiar voices: Jewel and Paula Cole.
Jewel's latest releases are "My Father's Daughter" (a lovely, nostalgic duet with Dolly Parton) and the heartbreak-ballad "Pretty Faced Fool;" both songs are from her recent return to folk music, Picking Up the Pieces--an album that points to her debut. Though some of the lyrics are a bit precious, Jewel is a stronger vocalist and songwriter than she was in her youth. It's a pleasure to hear her in her prime.
Paula Cole's "New York City" and "Chickadees (And Sipping Tea)" are two of the best tracks off of her most recent album, 7. Like Jewel, Cole is working through her past with these songs, and the singer/songwriter has never been better. (In related news: I'm seeing Paula Cole perform an anniversary concert celebrating her breakthrough album, This Fire, so I will have lots of news on that experience soon!)
For some reason, it has been too easy for critics to forget how important these two artists were to the pop music scene, as well as how their strong voices empowered young female fans and gay fans. I know many people like myself who where just kids in the mid 90s and found their tribe and strength in the music of Jewel and Paula Cole. Their music changed my life. It's wonderful that these artists keep giving great work to fans.