Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

EILEN JEWELL

QUEEN OF THE MINOR KEY

2011-06-23

After a detour for some country gospel with the Sacred Shakers and the 2010 homage to Loretta Lynn, Butcher Holler, this is Eilen Jewell’s first straight follow up to her 2009 breakthrough release, Sea of Tears. As with that release, Jewell’s sharp songwriter’s eye for detail makes this a compelling collection. True to the title, this disc skips big, poppy numbers in favor of mostly low key, occasionally melancholy, glimpses at the complicated lives we live. That’s not to say though that this is a Cowboy Junkie like valium cruise. "Radio City" and "Kalimotxo" are sax driven, greasy surf instrumentals while "Warning Signs" and "Hooked" have enough R & B in them to make Amy Winehouse look over her shoulder. "Reckless" sounds like an outtake from the Butcher Holler sessions with its country fiddle and bouncy vocals. "Santa Fe", with its plaintive harmonica, could be a Neil Young outtake. The title cut has a rockabilly groove that is as fun as the lyrics and bouncing groove of "Bang Bang Bang" which adds a somewhat sinister twist to Cupid’s role in bringing couples together (he uses a gun and it’s mostly random!). The songs closest to the minor key are the slow, jazzy, "Remember You" and "Only You", both of which are torchy and seductive and the country weeper, "Over Again". Jewell’s voice is well suited for all this material with its slippery drawl and rich tone evoking Rickie Lee Jones without the hipster overtones. Smitty

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