Eilen Jewell Band
Once in a great while, you put on a CD by an artist you've never heard of before and time stops. The voice is new, yet timeless. The lyrics are original yet feel immediately familiar, lived-in, knowing. And the melodies expertly performed by a first-rate band carry an easy, memorable groove.
This is the story of Eilen (rhymes with feelin) Jewell. It started after her 2005 self-released debut, Boundary Country, made its way into club-owners hands, onto a handful of radio shows and around the press circles of Boston, her current home base. Reaction to Eilens music was swift. Many compared her talents to those of Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch and June Carter Cash. The Boston Globe said, The slow organic sway of her melodies, and the sensual way she rubs against the low end of her register, will remind some of Gillian Welch. Also like Welch, her writing is both intimate and vivid, classically framed and closely observed.
And now begins chapter two in the story of this 27-year old Boise-born talent: the release of her national debut album LETTERS FROM SINNERS & STRANGERS on Signature Sounds.
Letters From Sinners & Strangers promises to show the rest of the world what the buzz is about. Jewells heart-achingly hushed style and intimate grasp of roots musics wild graces are revealed in the CDs provocative, melodic originals and timeless country and blues classics. Set to a swaying, irrepressible groove, the subdued emotion in her soft soprano feels like music straining beneath skin. And her band evokes classic country, folk and swing without feeling nostalgic. Nothing about roots is retro in Eilen Jewells universe.
In an era dominated by artfully inscrutable songwriters, Jewells songs come on like nakedness and thunder. "You show me the well, but you don't let me drink," she sings, and you know exactly why she's "going some place where they never say your name." And when she hisses that she's "Too Hot to Sleep," you know she ain't talking about the weather.
Eilens keenly visual way of articulating deep emotion is palpable on her new album. She always wants you to know how her songs feel, whether she's drowning her sorrows on "Heartache Boulevard," or yearning for the "High Shelf Booze" of the good life that always seems like it's right around the next hard corner.
Perhaps the most remarkable song on the album, "How Long," is her gripping song-setting of a Martin Luther King speech from 1965. Within her world-weary, street-beaten melody, the lyrics veer ominously between certain despair and uncertain hope.
Jewells band drummer Jason Beek, Jerry Miller on electric and steel guitar, and Johnny Sciascia covering the low end on upright bass accompany her on tour and in the studio. Together theyre always seconding, but never detracting from, Eilens hushed vocals.
Those same hypnotic vocal talents could lull you into thinking she's not a skilled and crafty stylist. But listen to the prolonged, yearning vowels in her version of Eric A
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