Music Reviews: Diamonds are forever

Perfectly Clear – Jewel
Pop star Jewel has gone country. Daughter to an Alaskan cowboy singer-songwriter, she probably could’ve started out as a big star in Nashville just as easily as Los Angeles. The multi-platinum singer, songwriter, actress, poet, painter and philanthropist now finds herself in the embrace of country music for the release of her seventh career album, Perfectly Clear.

Throughout her career, Jewel, 34, has written all her songs. This album is no exception. “I’ve been writing country songs my whole career,” she says. “Some of the songs on this record date back to when I was 18 years old. I’ve been hanging on to them until now. They were meant for a record like this one.” The first single, “Stronger Woman,” is a powerful and positive message that resonates with women of any age. She co-produced the album with John Rich of Big and Rich fame. “Jewel is probably one of the greatest American singer-songwriters we have,” Rich says.

Other songs of note on the 11-track disc include “Love By You (Cowboy Waltz),” “Love Is a Garden,” and “Everything Reminds Me of You.” A-

C’MON! – Keith Anderson
Columbia Nashville recording star Keith Anderson’s unique songs, like “Pickin’ Wildflowers” and “Every Time I Hear Your Name,” have caught listeners’ ears ever since the Miami, Okla., native first appeared on the charts back in 2005. (His debut album went Gold.)

Anderson’s sophomore effort, C’MON!, features the Top 30 hit “I Still Miss You,” another track in Anderson’s unique mold. The CD also features a remake of the Foster & Lloyd ’80s classic “Crazy Over You.” The 40-year-old Oklahoma State University alum is living proof country fans continue to crave good ol’ testosterone-driven music. B

Live in Concert – Martina McBride
The sweetheart of Nashville, Martina McBride, is releasing her first live album after 16 years in the biz. It features live versions of hits from past albums, with one new cover track, and a bonus live concert DVD containing 20 tracks.

McBride, 41, is one of the top touring female acts in the country. Eight of her biggest hits are on this disc – including “Happy Girl,” “Concrete Angel,” “This One’s For The Girls,” and “Independence Day.” The bonus DVD was filmed last September in Moline, Ill. Among the timeless gems you’ll see and hear – “Where Would You Be,” “A Broken Wing,” “Wild Angels.” A

The Very Best of Confederate Railroad – Confederate Railroad
The early ’90s were filled with lots of solo acts trying to be the next Garth Brooks or Clint Black. Luckily, few bands made an impact during that peak time. Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Confederate Railroad stormed on the scene in 1992 with a sound, attitude and image that Music Row desperately needed.

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Sixteen years after “She Took It Like a Man” hit radio, we get a chance to hear 18 of the band’s best tracks, which include that debut single, “Jesus and Mama,” “Queen of Memphis,” and “She Never Cried.” And don’t worry – the quintessential Confederate Railroad (and party) song is cued up and ready for a spin in the big rig – “Trashy Women.” A

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