Sunday, October 25, 2009
Eilen Jewell - Sea of Tears (LP, Signature Sounds)
Although singer/songwriter Eilen Jewell has drawn comparisons with artists like Lucinda Williams & Jolie Holland, her strongest influences appear to be Bessie Smith & Billie Holiday. Having earned a reputation as a folkie with her earlier albums, Jewell moves towards a more guitar-heavy, 60's-flavoured roots rock with her third release, Sea of Tears.
The album is mainly Jewell's own compositions, but there are a few great covers thrown into the mix. Jewell's vocals are subtle, understated, and relaxed, but that doesn't make her any less expressive on moody, melancholy originals such as "Codeine Arms", "Rain Roll In", and "Fading Memory". She's as melancholy on her own material as she is on memorable performances of "I'm Gonna Dress in Black" (a gem that Van Morrison performed when he a member of Them in the '60s) and Loretta Lynn's "The Darkest Day". She also does a great cover of Johnny Kidd's "Shakin' All Over".
Eilen Jewell is a distinctive artist with a voice that sinks into your head and just won't leave. The album will defintely be on your year-end "Best Of" list - it's that good.