Eilen Jewell w. Jukebox Casanova
Bedrock 66 Live! brings Eilen Jewell to Springfield, IL.
Online sales end at Noon the day of the show. Tickets for $20 will be available at the door.
Eilen Jewell has drawn comparisons to musicians from Lucinda Williams to Madeleine Peyroux as she's put out a series of accomplished Americana albums over the last decade.
There's validity in bringing up both of those names. Her songs are sharply observed, sometimes acrid, like Williams', and her phrasing as she sings strolls around the notes, like Peyroux's. There's a reason she called one of those albums, "Queen of the Minor Key."
But Thursday night at SPACE in Evanston, seeing her live for the first time, I was struck by another, perhaps less apparent comparison: Chris Isaak.
Like Isaak, Jewell's presentation is sultry and theatrical, but with an understated elegance that is entirely spellbinding. The setting, too, is classic American roots music: stand-up bass, minimal drum kit and a countrified electric guitar.
While such allusions might be useful to newbies, the show Thursday, packed with songs of open landscapes and half-closed hearts, demonstrated she deserves to be known entirely on her own merits and better known.
Despite a now 16-month-old daughter with her husband, drummer and backup singer Jason Beek, Jewell has been touring hard behind her newest album, "Sundown Over Ghost Town." She played City Winery in the spring, FitzGerald's American Music Fest in summer.
In the intimate hall at SPACE, Jewell and band were masterful, whether playing a Texas dance hall honky-tonk ("Heartache Boulevard"), vintage country (Charlie Rich's "Thanks a Lot"), or a torch song that would be at home in a jazz club ("Here with Me," from the new record). One of the few styles she didn't touch on was gospel, but that was there, sort of, in her mention of their daughter's name: Mavis.
Playing with brushes seemingly as often as sticks, Beek and bassist Shawn Supra gave the music a propulsion that played well against Jewell's often languorous vocals (Lana Del Rey, eat your heart out). And guitar player Jerry Miller, all casual virtuosity, was a compelling second lead voice in the band; it would have been nice to hear him play some steel guitar, too.
Jewell the first name rhymes with "stealin' " grew up in southern Idaho, amid a landscape she said is a desert, and has recently moved back to the state. Her new "Hallelujah Band," she explained, is about that empty place; "I stood next to the tracks / Just to feel something pushing back," she sang.
She attended a college (St. John's, in Santa Fe, N.M.) that has a great books-based curriculum, which might explain some of the poetry and subtle power in her lyrics.
And she told the audience that when she was starting out, singing on the streets in Santa Fe, Los Angeles and Boston, she loved the freedom "it was just me and my whims" but always dreamed of playing with a band. Mission accomplished.
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Bar None (View)
245 S. 5th St.
Springfield, IL 62701
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!|