Photo by Dan Tappan, Creative Commons License
The night is dark and stormy. Cabs are scarce as hen’s teeth in this God-forsaken neighborhood, so you succumb to the lure of the neon lights and duck into a corner bar to shake off the cold. Heads turn as you walk in—the place is almost empty—but quickly turn back to their beverages. Two or three old men at the end of the bar, an unsteady couple on the dimly lit dance floor, and a competent three-piece combo on a Fender Strat, doghouse bass, and drums round out tonight’s cast of characters at the Dewdrop Inn. Now the lights come up, and you see a whispy blonde woman at the mic, with a voice like a velvet Elvis painting. And you realize, you may be here for awhile.
Welcome to the smoky world of Eilen Jewell’s new release “Sea of Tears,” due out April 21 on Signature Sounds. Fiddlefreak usually shies away from the temptation of electric twang, as there are several other blogs that cover the genre so well. But this record successfully connects the dots between Billie Holliday, Madeline Peyroux, and Gillian Welch, and it’s just irresistible. Her voice holds the allure of a siren, and her longtime band of Jason Beek (drums), Jerry Miller (electric, acoustic, and steel guitars), and Johnny Sciascia (upright bass) creates the perfect foil for Eilen Jewell’s torpid, languid vocals.
“Before I discovered Woody Guthrie and folk music,” she explains, “I was listening to Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and, later on, the Animals and the Kinks. I love that stuff, and I love to play it.”