New music coming from Eilen Jewell (sneak peek free MP3)
One of my favorite memories from this year’s SXSW was getting to meet and introduce (and then enjoy a set from) Eilen Jewell. She’s been one of my favorite new artists since her album Letters from Sinners & Strangers dropped back in 2007. Its follow-up, ’09’s Sea of Tears, is still one of my frequent go-to albums – particularly for dark, rainy days. Indeed, Jewell has a knack for capturing life’s less rosy elements. I imagine it’s that command of her craft which often gets her lumped under the category of “folk noir,” whatever that is.
Last year, she dropped a smashing tribute album to Loretta Lynn – Butcher Holler – which appeared on many of your year-end lists. This year, she’s chasing it with a collection of originals, titled Queen of the Minor Key, and due on Signature Sounds on June 28.
According to a note on the Signature Sounds website, the disc includes guest vocals from Zoe Muth and Big Sandy (of Big Sandy & the Fly-Rite Boys). Based on the free MP3 below, I think it’s safe to say this record will be well worth waiting a few more months for.
For now, though, check out the title track: Eilen Jewell – “Queen of the Minor Key”
Now for the full press release from Shorfire:
On new album ‘Queen of the Minor Key,’ Eilen Jewell and her ace band conjure up songs depicting broken bottles as protection, bad voodoo and Cupid using a sawed-off shotgun instead of a bow and arrow. The dark, often times haunted tales on the album, out June 28 on Signature Sounds Recordings, are fleshed out at points by surf guitar, pedal steel and upright bass, but always hold Jewell’s smoldering voice and unforgettable lyrics center stage.
Listen to the title track here:
Lines like “you picked up a broken bottle, in case anyone gave us any trouble, and we walked all the way back to Cortez” (“Santa Fe”) and “I showed you how to kiss, I let you shoot my hats off, ‘cause I knew you wouldn’t miss” (“I Remember You”) showcase Jewell as a lyricist nearing the height of her powers. She’s able to throw out dusky, hyper-detailed phrases, while still finding room for a humorous yet twisted track like “Bang Bang Bang,” which depicts Cupid as “about two years of age, a really freaky thing to see, he was bragging about his sawed-off six gauge, hidden right up his tattered sleeve.”
The lines did not come easily at first, as Jewell was struck with a severe case of writers block when she began the follow-up to the critically acclaimed ‘Sea of Tears.’ To help she retreated to a cabin in the mountains of Idaho, where the Boston-based artist is originally from. With no electricity and no running water, she was able to focus on crafting sketches of songs, breaking her block and building the framework of ‘Queen of the Minor Key.’
Jewell and her longtime band of Jason Beek (drums, harmony vocals), Jerry Miller (electric, acoustic and steel guitars), and Johnny Sciascia (upright bass) turned the sketches into songs. A crack unit with an innate musical connection developed after playing 150-plus shows a year for the last five years, the band has an impressive array of styles and sounds displayed fully on the album. From the rollicking, hard-edged rockabilly surf of the title track to the whining pedal steel and gentle strum of the autobiographical “Santa Fe.”
Jewell and her band will tour relentlessly throughout the rest of 2011, for a full list of tour dates go to: