Eilen Jewell
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Eilen Jewell

Band Americana Folk


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"Boundary County Review"

Jewell, a native by way of Idaho whose voice recalls Gillian Welch and Jolie Holland, tackles 13 tracks’ worth of battered, dirt-road country material here with a well-honed sense of swing and aplomb. “What I need’s a grand piano / To do things right / Cool my fingers in its pools of black and white / I need time, clear to eternity / Half of it to set it straight and the other just to sleep,” she sings over loping fiddle, slide guitar and harmonica accompaniment on “Hey Hey Hey.” Following that is the slightly sinister rumbler, “Fourth Degree” (“Well, I’ll follow you down, I’ll follow you down / I won’t do nothing ’til I follow you down / And I’ll go so far astray”) and the ridiculously sultry “Mess Around.” Throughout, Jewell’s voice is flawless, her lyrics are solid, and her band—consisting of members of local Americana powerhouses The Spurs and Tarbox Ramblers—is absolutely righteous...[JOE KEOHANE] - Boston's Weekly Dig

"Press Quotes"

“She has a voice like melting butter, thick and sweet, able to imply deep wells of emotion without vocal trickery.”
--Scott Alarik, Boston Globe

“If it were based on talent alone, Boston’s Americana gem the Eilen Jewell Band would be huge...”
--Daniel Gewertz, Boston Herald

“Centerpiece of this whole thing is the voice of Eilen Jewell herself. Jewell’s voice is like a shot of good whiskey: warm-warm-warm all the way down but with the irresistible bite to it that leaves you wanting more. Jewell sinuously entwines herself around almost every melody; something she does with a high level of success...There is no anachronism or theatre; Jewell exudes authenticity, her voice dripping with both maple syrup and a little fire as the music lopes and bumps like the back of an open boxcar.”
--C.D DiGuardia, Northeast Performer Magazine

“Eilen puts her own beautiful stamp on old country blues and comes out sounding like the time-traveling, sweet-voiced love-child of Bessie Smith, Gillian Welch, and The Be Good Tanyas.” --Kerry Bernard, Young/Hunter Management

“…we just heard an advance copy of Eilen Jewell’s forthcoming CD (Boundary County), which is easily one of the best local releases of 2006.”
--Boston’s Weekly Dig

"Singer Eilen Jewell gracefully explores all the dusty roads of Americana on her new Boundary County"
--Boston Phoenix Editor's Picks 4/13/06

“Now there's something you don't see every day: someone that good, that young, who plays like she's sixty five years old. Like she doesn't care who's going to listen, doesn't need to care, because she is listening. And listening to something far away, and bringing it right here. Damn!" --Peter Mulvey

“If Billie Holiday met up with a band of troubadours from the American South, sat around the back porch on an early summer evening, it may well have sounded like the Eilen Jewell band. The 7 live tracks from the band's debut EP is a traditional hoedown with scruffy blues musicians and all, yet Jewel's sultry, somewhat vulnerable vocals (not unlike Holiday) glide across the room like a ballroom dancer. Stylish, graceful and hypnotic with a hint of sass. Worthy of many listens either by candlelight, by whiskey or both.” -- Joan Hathaway, Host of Three Ring Circus, WMBR-FM, Cambridge, MA

“Eilen is fast making a name for herself on the local scene, with her sleepy, country-tinged voice fronting an understated back- woodsy sounding quartet, and singing her own thoughtful takes on the folk rock tradition.”
--Dana Westover, Johnny Ds Uptown
- Various-Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Northeast Performer...



The Cowgirl Hall of Fame (Santa Fe, NM)
Le Bete a Zailes (St. Barth’s, French West Indies)
Lake Elemental (Colorado Springs, CO)
Neurolux (Boise, ID)
Burnside Blues Café (Holly Springs, MS)
Press Room (Portsmouth, NH)
Webnash Guitar Workshop (Lebanon, NY)
Pete’s Candy Store (Brooklyn, NY)
Club Helsinki (Great Barrington, MA)
Dreamaway Lodge (Beckett, MA)
Sit n’ Bull Pub (Maynard, MA)
Vincent’s (Worcester, MA)
Lizard Lounge (Cambridge, MA)
The Plough and Stars (Cambridge, MA)
Johnny D’s (Somerville, MA)
Toad (Cambridge, MA)
Moneypenny House Concerts (Cambridge, MA)
Nameless Coffeehouse (Cambridge, MA)
NEMO Music Festival (Boston, MA)
ZuZu (Cambridge, MA)
The Iron Horse (Northampton, MA)
The Bull Run (Shirley, MA)
Club Passim (Cambridge, MA)
Tir na nog (Somerville, MA)
The Burren (Somerville, MA)
Narrow’s Center for the Arts (Fall River, MA)
Milky Way Lounge (Boston, MA)
Paradise Lounge (Boston, MA)
Matt Murphy’s (Brookline, MA)

Upcoming Festival Appearances:
Shakori Hills Music Festival (Silk Hope, NC)
Grassroots Music Festival (Trumansburg, NY)
McCall Summer Music Festival (McCall, ID)

Radio Appearances:
WMBR, Cambridge, Massachusetts
WMFO, Medford, Massachusetts
WAMC, Albany, New York (Northeast Public Radio)
WKZE, Sharon, Connecticut
- Venues

"Review of Boundary County"

April, 2006
Laid Back Jewel

The roots-savvy virtues of Boston singer-songwriter [EILEN JEWELL] come through in a moment. A young singer with a wise old soul, she's made a moody, lazily sensual take on ancient country music...Jewell and her fine string band are masters of rural American genres. Download: "Mess Around" --Daniel Gewertz, Boston Herald - Boston Herald

"Review of Boundary County"

April, 2006
Boston Globe Calendar's Folk Picks (in advance of 4/14 Lizard Lounge Release Party)

Eilen Jewell - say it "EE-lun" - is the most exciting neo-trad songwriter to emerge from the Boston scene since Jake Armerding. Though only 25, the Idaho native sounds like she's been writing songs for at least a couple of centuries. But on her starkly lovely new CD, "Boundary County," she never wears her traditional trappings like an affect. The slow organic sway of her melodies, and the sensual way she rubs against the low end of her register, will remind some of Gillian Welch. Also like Welch, her writing is both intimate and vivid, classically framed and closely observed. --Scott Alarik, Boston Globe
- Boston Globe

"Berkshire Eagle Advance of Club Helsinki CD Release Party"

Young roots artist plays like she's 65
By Dave Madeloni, Special to The Eagle

Friday, March 31
"Now there's something you don't see every day: someone that good, that young, who plays like she's 65 years old. Like she doesn't care who's going to listen, doesn't need to care, because she is listening. And listening to something far away, and bringing it right here. Damn!"
As soon as I saw that description of Eilen Jewell — courtesy of fellow singer-songwriter, Peter Mulvey — I knew he'd nailed her authentic, old-timey twang-thang. But could a young roots artist be all that thrilled with being likened to a senior citizen?

"I think Peter picked up on a really key element there, and I'm happy he did," said Jewell, who lists her age on her myspace.com Web site as 102. "I feel, when I perform, that the music is all I need. It's the sturdiest stone pillar to lean on.

"If the audience cares to listen, that's wonderful. And if they don't, I still have all I need. The music is what it's about. It's as if the music's truth is out there in the ether somewhere, and it is my job, and my joy, to hear it and bring it here."

She will be bringing it here to the Berkshires tonight when returns to Club Helsinki in support of her brand new CD, "Boundary County," an idea that simmered in Jewell's imagination for a long time before it came together.

"The album that I had been trying for two years to make was recorded, for the most part, in one day," she explained from her home in Cambridge. " 'Boundary County' has been a dream of mine for several years now.

"My musical aesthetic is a sparse sound, pared to the essentials. I don't like a lot of clutter in my music. No extra notes, no extra words or showy production antics. Just sincerity and integrity."

Throughout her new record, Jewell wraps her sophisticated and sultry Gillian Welch-meets-Billie Holiday vocals around songs that evoke an ambience of, as Mulvey put it, "something far away."

"I dreamt of making a heart-felt album that offered a glimpse of where I come from. The song 'Boundary County' is based on the actual place in my home state of Idaho. I wanted imagery of the west to be woven into the whole record.

"The music I most love, and that I listen to almost exclusively, is all that early country and blues stuff, jug bands and gospel music. I wanted listeners to be able to hear, at the very least, a nod in that traditional direction. At the same time I wanted the album to avoid sounding imitative. "

Jewell lived for a while in the Berkshires, so her return to Club Helsinki with her band is a homecoming, of sorts.

"It it's where I started out," she said, "it's where I feel the most comfortable, and there's also a similar pressure that one might feel from their family. I feel the need to have something to show for myself, as if folks are saying, 'You better have left home for a good reason. Don't come back empty-handed.' "
- Berkshire Eagle

"Letters From Sinners and Strangers Press"

Letters From Sinners and Strangers

LA Daily News:
Sometimes as darkly damaged as Lucinda Williams, at others as defiant and teasing as prime Peggy Lee and always authentically Americana in the Gillian Welch tradition....She's mighty good.

Philadelphia Inquirer's Top 10 Country/Roots list for '07:
The young singer and songwriter brings a Billie Holiday sultriness and a Lucinda Williams plaintiveness to classic country, jazz and blues styles, forging a low-key but alluring brand of Americana that's all her own.

About.com Folk:
Letters from Sinners and Strangers stands as a wonderful second release. It's full of surprises. The album haunts like Chris Isaac, swings to country and jazz, goes south of the border and gets down with some acoustic blues, all the while maintaining its straight-up country vibe.

No Depression:
Jewell is showing she can wander with the best of them, and write riveting song-stories about her adventures along the way�.

SF Bay Guardian:
I'm smitten! Boston's honky-tonk angel Eilen Jewell's recently released Letters from Sinners and Strangers (Signature Sounds) has rendered me punch-drunk, staggering, and, head-scratchingly enough, brimming with nostalgia for my grandparents' era. Her slow-drawled, dusty-jazz phrasing — equal parts Billie Holiday and Gillian Welch — works wonders in painting sepia-toned tales of train hopping and moonshine, and every last scrap of Western swing, swamp folk, and classic country on this disc is blessed with laid-back-as-a-summer-hammock production. Cover lovers, brace yourselves: Jewell's take on Charlie Rich's "Thanks a Lot" is sublime. (Todd Lavoie)

All Music Guide:
There's an off-the-cuff manner to the opening songs of Eilen Jewell's Letters from Sinners & Strangers that makes the album easy to like...she mixes oldies with originals and, arrangement-wise, is capable of replicating everything from Western swing crossed with rock ("Heartache Boulevard") to jazzy blues ("High Shelf Booze"). ..Jewell's low-key, off-the-cuff strategy works well from beginning to end on Letters from Sinners & Strangers, delivering a fine contemporary folk album. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., All Music Guide

This record should be a wake-up call to Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle etc, etc; that they somehow need to get back to their roots, get back to when they were hungry, back to when they were doing it all themselves without high priced producers and impeccable session players; basically back to when they gave a damn.

Billings Gazette:
The 27-year-old Boise-born, Boston-based Jewell follows up her 2006 "Boundary County" debut with a doozy of an album, a swinging blend of mountain music, folk, jazz, country and whatever else moves you.

Sounding like a hand-picked playlist from Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour, Letters From Sinners & Strangers, is a rousing and confident tour de force.... Not only is there a single track you'd want to skip over, there's not a bad note or clumsy arrangement within a thousand mile radius. - Various

"Boundary County Review"

It could be said that Eilen Jewell is back to her old tricks with Boundary County. She has also grown up a bit since her initial live release, at least in terms of her material.

Jewell's voice is a thing of beauty. She sinuously winds it around every lyric, and the effect is that of a honey-coated shot of whiskey. The thirteen original tracks on Boundary County represent a voice not only strong in timbre, but one that is also strong in message. Many of the songs on this record have a touch of melancholy urged on by the swinging bump of Jay Beek�s drums. Some of them have a downright bite to them, such as tenth track �The Flood.�

Many performers as of late have been doing anti-Bush songs, but they are usually focused on the topic of war. Jewell, as she can be counted on to do, looks a little closer at the heartland. �The Flood� is perhaps the most articulate and strongly worded musical commentary on the effects of the New Orleans flood. Jewell stands up, guitar in hand, and condemns the government: �It�s you, our leader who�s to blame. You laid sweet New Orleans out to waste,� she sings with an extra undercurrent of bite to the tones of her sweetly damning voice. Bounty County proves that folk music need not be �feel-good,� it simply needs to feel to be effective.

As a performer and writer, Eilen Jewell is at once both comforting and discomforting. Her voice sets the skin crawling in a pleasant manner and the heart burning with just a little more heat than usual. Jewell has crossed a new boundary with this record, and the railcar keeps picking up steam. (Self-released)

-C.D. Di Guardia

- Northeast Performer

"She's simply the latest local gem"

She's simply the latest local gem
Eilen Jewell's stark, rootsy sound comes from sticking to essentials

By Scott Alarik, Globe Correspondent | September 10, 2006

How hot is Cambridge songwriter Eilen Jewell? When Jim Olsen of the smart indie label Signature Sounds heard her new debut studio CD, Boundary County, he offered to sell it through the label's website. The only other time he did that was for acclaimed singer-songwriter Josh Ritter. Look for the 27-year-old Jewell's next album to be on Signature.

"She seems to be a continuation of a long line of female country-folk songwriters -- from the Carter Family to Kitty Wells to Gillian Welch -- whose music is personal yet universal, and offers a particularly open view into what makes them tick," Olsen says. ``There's a real honesty to it, yet also a little mystery."

The first time Tir na Nog owner Robby Elliott heard Jewell's band, he offered them a Saturday residency at his Union Square pub, which is still going. They also appear at Tir Na Nog's Roots Festival Sept. 17.

``Eilen [EE-lun] can deliver a song on its own merits," Elliott says, ``so she keeps it simple. And I think audiences are getting tired of all the techno stuff."

Jewell's music has the languorous quietude of Welch or Norah Jones, but there is something more direct, almost in your face, about her stark, neo traditional melodies, subdued vocals, and confident, slow-swaying groove. It's as if she's daring us to say we miss the bells and whistles of pop.

``There is so much extra in the world right now, so much clutter," Jewell says. ``The idea of less is more is really making a comeback. People like me who are turned off by this culture of consumerism, of thinking you need more of everything to be happy, are going the opposite direction. It's not just with my music, but the way I live my life. I don't like extra anything -- just the essentials."

Jewell grew up in Idaho, and her father liked to pick a particular music to play on the long car trips the family often took. When she was 14, the menu was Bob Dylan's ``Bootleg Series." The effect was immediate.

``There was something very mysterious about folk music that made me want to figure out where it was coming from. It's like any time you hear a strange sound in the night; you want to follow the trail, and see what the source is. That's how this music made me feel. Who is this guy? Where is this coming from?"

For all her folksy simplicity, her songs ripple with unresolved emotion. She presents herself as a woman with urgent wants, who can't quite figure what they are. She swerves from tired regret to eager fantasy, obsession to ennui, loneliness to contented solitude. In this impressionistic ambiguity, her songs feel bitingly contemporary, at once old and new.

``I want to encapsulate an image or emotion," she says, ``and just let people think about it. It's like how a painter will paint the foreground in focus, and make the background blurry. That's part of the sparseness I like in music; focusing on what you're going for, and not getting distracted by the peripheral." - Boston Globe

"Signature Sounds Discovery"

Eilen Jewell's Boundary County is the best debut album we've heard in 2006. A young singer/songwriter armed with a voice and sensibility far beyond her years, Eilen Jewell's music is an evocative resurrection of the musical styles most commonly associated with rural Appalachia of the early 20th century. Each song is meticulously crafted, as Jewell deftly blends country, blues, jazz and folk to create a unique sound that cannot be pigeonholed into any particular format or era. Her voice evokes Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith without imitating either; her songcraft is reminiscent of great country poets Townes Van Zandt and Gillian Welch. The languid melodies and sultry vocals are a perfect soundtrack for a humid summer afternoon. --Jim Olsen, President, Signautre Sounds Recordings - Signature Sounds Recordings


Boundary County, 2006
Independent Release

Letters From Sinners and Strangers, 2007
Signature Sounds



Once in a great while, you put on a CD by an artist you’ve never heard of before and time stops. The voice is new, yet timeless. The lyrics are original yet feel immediately familiar, lived-in, knowing. And the melodies — expertly performed by a first-rate band — carry an easy, memorable groove.

This is the story of Eilen (rhymes with feelin’) Jewell. It started after her 2005 self-released debut, Boundary Country, made its way into club-owners’ hands, onto a handful of radio shows and around the press circles of Boston, her current home base. Reaction to Eilen’s music was swift. Many compared her talents to those of Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch and June Carter Cash. The Boston Globe said, “The slow organic sway of her melodies, and the sensual way she rubs against the low end of her register, will remind some of Gillian Welch. Also like Welch, her writing is both intimate and vivid, classically framed and closely observed.�

And now begins chapter two in the story of this 27-year old Boise-born talent: the release of her national debut album LETTERS FROM SINNERS & STRANGERS on Signature Sounds.

Letters From Sinners & Strangers promises to show the rest of the world what the buzz is about. Jewell’s heart-achingly hushed style and intimate grasp of roots music’s wild graces are revealed in the CD’s provocative, melodic originals and timeless country and blues classics. Set to a swaying, irrepressible groove, the subdued emotion in her soft soprano feels like music straining beneath skin. And her band evokes classic country, folk and swing without feeling nostalgic. Nothing about roots is retro in Eilen Jewell’s universe.

In an era dominated by artfully inscrutable songwriters, Jewell’s songs come on like nakedness and thunder. "You show me the well, but you don't let me drink," she sings, and you know exactly why she's "going some place where they never say your name." And when she hisses that she's "Too Hot to Sleep," you know she ain't talking about the weather.
Eilen’s keenly visual way of articulating deep emotion is palpable on her new album. She always wants you to know how her songs feel, whether she's drowning her sorrows on "Heartache Boulevard," or yearning for the "High Shelf Booze" of the good life that always seems like it's right around the next hard corner.

Perhaps the most remarkable song on the album, "How Long," is her gripping song-setting of a Martin Luther King speech from 1965. Within her world-weary, street-beaten melody, the lyrics veer ominously between certain despair and uncertain hope.

Jewell’s band – drummer Jason Beek, Jerry Miller on electric and steel guitar, and Johnny Sciascia covering the low end on upright bass – accompany her on tour and in the studio. Together they’re always seconding, but never detracting from, Eilen’s hushed vocals.

Those same hypnotic vocal talents could lull you into thinking she's not a skilled and crafty stylist. But listen to the prolonged, yearning vowels in her version of Eric Anderson's '60s gem "Dusty Box Car Wall." Her oddly halted phrasing softly reinvents the Charlie Rich classic "Thanks a Lot," turning its bitterness into something both vulnerable and resilient. Like her vocal hero Bessie Smith, Jewell always makes you think she'll be punching back at life in the morning.

Jewell is at her most daring in her use of silence, deftly placing pauses that imply deep wells of restrained emotion. “I think space is one of the most important things in writing and performing,� she says. “I don’t know why; it’s just an aesthetic that I have. I always preferred songs that leave room, that don’t get all cluttered up. There’s so much clutter in our lives these days.�
“The fewer tricks you have going on, the fewer antics, the more bare you are,� she adds. “There’s something much more real about that, and there’s also something terrifying. But I know that’s the music that really moves me.�

Eilen Jewell’s love of music began on a 1500-mile family road trip from Anchorage, Alaska to her hometown of Boise, Idaho. Bundling his wife, daughter, week-old son, and husky dog into the family Volvo, Eilen’s father (a tree farmer from a long line of Idahoans) put on a tape of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. Seven-year-old Eilen was so fascinated, she begged her parents to let her take piano lessons when they got back to Boise. The 27-year-old singer, songwriter and musician plunged headlong into anything and everything musical ever since.

At 14, Jewell dug her parents’ old records out of storage, a discovery that led her to pick up her first guitar. Her favorites, Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home and a Sun Records’ Howling Wolf album, led the quiet teenager to the music of Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday. All remain her strongest musical influences today.

Five years later, at 19, Eilen began performing at farmer’s markets and local bars in Santa Fe (