Artist: Eilen Jewell
Album: Sundown Over Ghost Town
Label: Signature Sounds
Release Date: 05/26/2015
Since her dustily evocative Boundary County in ’05, through each succeeding release (most notably Letters from Sinners & Strangers and Queen of the Minor Key), I’ve been pitching Eilen Jewell to the world-at-large and still feel like I’m keeping a secret. So someone damn-well listen this time! I mean it. If you don’t, well, then, I’m gonna quit this critic business and leave you to your tin-eared, hard-hearted ways.
Moving back home to Boise, ID, and the rusted single-wide, mountain ghosts set upon her. Against a trad/swing/rockabilly/Twin Peaks-ian setting, Jewell, in her honey-rolled, Bessie Smith, sloe-burning drawl kilns each encounter onto our playlist. “Seven bars and one church,” she lazes matter-of-factly in the shuffling “Needles and Thread,” “Heaven is no match for hell… They’ll have to come and take us/With the force of ten trains/’Cos it’s no life worth livin’/If we don’t hold the reins.” On “Half Broke Horse,” one of the best songs you’ll hear this year and any others forthcoming, she speaks for the silent majority of bank-broken Americans.
There is so much to be quoted here, but that would leave no time to applaud Jewell’s long-standing, long touring band who perfect a sepia, vintage blues each time out. Jewell’s husband, drummer Jason Beek, sets the tone and tempo while Johnny Sciascia on upright bass brings the lounge smoke and Jerry Miller conjures reverberant, outer-dimensional guitar sketches. Guests Steve Fulton (on piano and Hammond organ) and pedal steel guitarist Jake Hoffman round out a masterful release. Eilen! Eilen! Eilen!
– Mike Jurkovic