Sea of Tears
Signature 2021

Eilen Jewell’s latest is a delightful throwback to rock’s Age of Innocence, a time in which a lyric—such as that of the title track—conveying a love-me-or-else message was dancing on the edge of danger. The band opts to front Jewell’s smoldering vocals with a stripped-down sound that’s heavy on Hawaiian surf guitar, slap bass, and snare drums. For the most part Jewell sings with an understated starkness that skirts the border of torpor but never crosses it. This provides startling and edgy contrast for those moments in which she airs out her voice, as on her cover of the Van Morrison hit “I’m Gonna Dress in Black” and of Loretta Lynn’s “The Darkest Day.” Still another detour is “Fading Memory,” a song in which Jewell slips into a Patsy Cline persona. But the song people are talking about—with good reason—is her remake of “Shakin’ All Over.” Put aside visions of loose-hipped rockers and frenzied teeny boppers; Jewell’s version builds around soulful bass lines and guitar notes that sound like nervous popcorn. Jewell’s languid vocal is icily sexy. This music is where rockabilly, Chicago blues, café jazz, country, ands swing collide and create a new musical galaxy. LV


Anonymous said...

This is an appalling record! Anodyne r&b from 30 years ago. The attraction? Who knows? I fear Lars fancies her big time.
Bad move sunshine.

Phoenix Brown & Lars Vigo said...

Lars disagrees. First most of the material is original, so the "30 years ago" complaint is off the mark. And Jewell plays with the old forms; she does not parrot them. "Shakin' All Over" is a prime example of that. Nostalgic? Sort of, but the "sort of" is the crucial difference. Lars agrees it's not going to be everybody's taste, however. But he wants to set the record straight--he hasn't fancied gals in cowboy boots since Emmy Lou Harris was in her 30s.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is missing out on something special if he can't open his mind to the EJB. I've seen them 3 times and they are amazing live too.

Anonymous said...

My mind ain't so open that any stuff can crawl right in. Leave the past where it belongs - let's start a brand new day. Anyway, how do you know I'm a 'male?'