JEWEL 0304 Meet Jewel Kilcher, dance diva. The erstwhile poetess has jettisoned her folkie roots to make a groovalicious pop album with producer Lester Mendez, who has previously worked with Shakira and Enrique Iglesias. As bizarre as the move seems, ”Intuition,” the new album’s slinky, sardonic first single, is grabbing radio play – so maybe Jewel’s new direction will save her career, if not her soul (June 3)…. TRAIN My Private Nation By teaming up with vet producer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam), the middle-aged purveyors of 2001’s uber-catchy megahit ”Drops of Jupiter” aim to keep Train on its unlikely track (June 3)…. STEELY DAN Everything Must Go Twenty years had passed between the last two Steely Dan records, but Walter Becker and Donald Fagen cranked out their latest offering in a quick three years. The album has more of a live-band feel than 2000’s Two Against Nature, but other than that, not much has changed. ”We’re fundamentally trying to do the same thing,” says Becker. ”Find cool, funny sad little songs and make cookin’ little tracks of ‘em” (June 10)…. JUSTIN GUARINI TBA The curl-flaunting American Idol runner-up hopes to shed his G-rated image on his tentatively self-titled debut, which includes production and songwriting by Kenneth ”Babyface” Edmonds. ”I think, on this album, I’ve explored my sensual side,” says Guarini. ”People haven’t seen that side of me.” Um, that’s because we were too busy looking at his hair (June 10)…. ANNIE LENNOX Bare Lennox sings the sorrow on 11 achingly beautiful tracks about ending a relationship. Being bereft never sounded so good (June 10)…. BLU CANTRELL Bittersweet Love’s got everything to do with Cantrell’s sophomore disc, and from the sound of it, 2001’s ”Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)” was only the beginning of her exorcise regimen (June 24)…. And look for albums from: EELS… FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE… JOHN MELLENCAMP… MOGWAI… WILLIE NELSON… DA BRAT… KENNY G.
ASHANTI Chapter II The soundtrack for a season’s worth of backyard barbecues. Ashanti brings the flavor of 1970s and ’80s R&B, including a cover of Love and Kisses’ ”I Found Love (Now That I Found You)” (July 1)…. MACY GRAY The Trouble With Being Myself The daffy diva keeps the R&B and funk crunk with old-school assists from horns, strings, and on-a-mission bass lines (July 15)…. JANE’S ADDICTION Strays Frontman Perry Farrell proves as resilient as ever, reviving the moribund Lollapalooza tour and recording the first new Jane’s album since 1990, with guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins, and new bassist Chris Chaney (Andrew W.K., Rob Zombie) (July 22)…. BABYFACE Love Story The veteran R&B hitmaker aims to exert whip appeal yet again on this silky set, including the appropriately steamy first single, ”We Can’t Stop Now,” and a duet with Blu Cantrell (July 22)…. GAVIN DEGRAW Chariot This 26-year-old singer-songwriter’s debut glides from Jeff Buckley sweetness to Counting Crows melodic dishevelment to blues hues, with guitarist Michael Ward (the Wallflowers) and drummer Joey Waronker (Beck) along for the ride (July 22)…. DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar Judging from the title, Dashboard and tattoo-sleeved frontman Chris Carrabba have no intention of abandoning the raw emo whinery of 2001’s The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most. Brit producer Gil Norton (the Pixies, Foo Fighters) joins the pity party (July 29)…. RODNEY CROWELL Fate’s Right Hand Roots music that wanders existential byways (”Come On Funny Feeling”), targets political conflicts (”It’s a Different World”), and describes the emotional vulnerability that comes with parenting (”Adam’s Song”) (July 29)…. And look for albums from: BEYONCE… BOW WOW… SPYMOB… MYSTIC.