Valentine's Day is coming up on Thursday, and there's nothing like music to set the romantic tone for a couple, or to dampen the mood for those who are single. Here are some relatively new releases from three popular artists whose music has been known to deal with the joys and complications of relationships.
"She's Got a Way: Love Songs"
Throughout his career, Billy Joel has incorporated rock and roll into his repertoire, but he'll be forever known for his introspective, piano-dominated ballads. Proof of that is "She's Got a Way: Love Songs," a newly-themed compilation of previous romantic songs from nearly all of his studio albums. Not surprisingly, classic songs such as "Just the Way You Are," "She's a Always a Woman, and the collection's title track are featured on this set. But what really makes it "She's Got a Way" quite unique from previous Joel hit collections is how deep it goes into the Piano Man's catalog -- a lot of them are songs that are either album tracks or should-have-been hits. This compilation goes all the way back to the classical-tinged "Nocturne," a short but pretty instrumental from his 1971 debut album, "Cold Spring Harbor"; through the lush '60s-styled radio pop of "Until the Night" and "An Innocent Man"; to the more reflective works from the '80s like "The Night is Still Young" and "And So it Goes," which closes the set on a graceful note. While some of his songs on this collection are sentimental, others like "Temptation" and "State of Grace" reveal a more mature look at relationships through Joel's insightful lyrics.
Fleetwood Mac's 1977 masterpiece "Rumours" tackles the theme of relationships, but more on the complicated and painful side of it, which kind of makes it the perfect anti-Valentine's Day album. The backstory behind the record, which has now been reissued as a 3-CD expanded edition, is as famous as the music itself: the two couples in the band, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, and Christine and John McVie were breaking up. The real-life romantic tumult of the band members found its way onto several of the album's songs from "Second Hand News" to "Never Going Back Again," and from "Go Your Own Way" to "I Don't Know Want to Know." Yet despite the tension, there are moments on "Rumours" that offer glimmers of optimism with "You Make Loving Fun" and "Don't Stop." This newly-expanded edition features not only the original album, but also a live concert from the "Rumours" tour (whose key highlights include performances of "Rhiannon" and "World Turning") and a third disc of outtakes, demos and instrumental from the recording sessions.
It's hard to imagine that Jewel's music has been around for nearly 20 years now. The Alaska-raised artist was one of a huge crop of female singer/songwriters -- among them Alanis Morisette, Sarah McLachlan and Paula Cole -- who emerged in the late '90s. Since the phenomenal success of the singer's 1995 debut, "Pieces of You," Jewel's music has evolved to embrace not only folk but also pop, dance, and country. There are several romantic-type songs on her new "Greatest Hits" collection that perfectly lend themselves to the spirit of Valentine's Day such as the lovely "You Were Meant For Me" and the very lush "Break Me," along with the more introspective material like the shimmering "Standing Still" and "Stronger Woman." Rounding out the hits are three newly-recorded tracks, including versions of "You Were Meant For Me" and "Foolish Games" with Pistol Annies and Kelly Clarkson, respectively. And as indicated by her other new song, "Two Hearts Breaking," there's no sign of Jewel deviating from what she does best: expressing matters of the heart.