The Upshot: Steeped in classic jazz and stripped down acoustic blues, the singer-songwriter delivers a remarkable set of covers.
BY JOHN B. MOORE
It’s hard not to think of someone like Billie Holiday when listening to Eilen Jewell. The Boise native manages to sing with the seemingly contradictory feelings of passion and ease. Her voice, steeped in classic jazz and stripped down acoustic blues, has a timeless quality that that could plausibly have come out anytime from the 1930s on.
Her latest, Downhearted Blues, only adds to that perception. Across a dozen tracks, some classics, others obscure gems, Jewell and her band covers songs by everyone from Willie Dixon to Betty James. What could have come off as sacrilege from a lesser talent (especially on the Dixon-penned title track), is purely satisfying in Jewell’s hands; She manages to add her personal signature to a remarkable set of covers.
Songs like “You Know My Love,” best associated with musicians like Dixon and Otis Rush take on a whole new feel with Jewell vocals. There’s not a single song here that isn’t done justice by her treatment. A remarkable album from start to finish.
DOWNLOAD: “You’ll Be Mine,” “Down Hearted Blues” and “Nothing in Rambling”