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Eilen Jewell

Letters from Sinners and Strangers – 2007 (Signature Sounds)

Reviewed by Rick Teverbaugh

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CDs by Eilen Jewell

Rarely have new songs sounded so old and aged to perfection as those contained on Eilen Jewell's new disc. Jewell, Boise,. Idaho-born, but seasoned from experiences coast to coast, wrote much of the material, but it could have been penned any time from 1940 to the present.

The music gently meanders from country to jazz to blues to torch as she sings with a confidence that likely came from the nurturing Boston-area folk scene. Her voice is more expressive than commanding, more passionate than technical.

The sensory images in her writing are very strong. On "Too Hot to Sleep," she writes, "It's getting late, they're closing their doors/Let's go upstairs and dance some more/The words left unsaid can be told in time/You've gone to my head like sweet moonshine/Let's play those old records till dawn/Let the music go on and on and on/It's too hot to sleep anyway/So you might as well stay." Often in Jewell's vocal approach what's left unsaid between the words and lines set the feel and mood of the song perfectly. For just a second release, this disc is strong and confident from an artist worth keeping an ear on.