Eilen’s (pronounced EE-lin) debut album ‘Boundary County’ was a low-key, self released album that made a real impact on the Boston music scene with radio shows, venues and local fans quickly recognising her obvious talents. We carried (and still stock) the album; it remains one of my favourite discs in recent memory and the feedback we’ve had from those who bought copies has been unprecedented.
Those who missed out on the debut disc, now have a chance to see what the buzz is about as ‘Letters from Sinners & Strangers’ is guaranteed to bring Eilen’s name to a much wider audience.
The 12 tracks are firmly rooted in old country, folk and blues, and she effortlessly moves from heart-achingly hushed songs to driving roots-rock pieces with ease. While she evokes classic folk and country there’s never any doubt that this is a contemporary piece of work with genuine honesty throughout, the songs are filled with soul and personality and there’s a familiar ‘lived-in’ feel to the whole collection, it’s certainly an album with real character. This character and personality is aided by the exceptional production work; the whole album is brimming with life and energy, there’s an irresistible groove and drive on the upbeat tracks, and delicacy and grace on the more subdued songs.
Jewell’s soprano vocals are expressive and smooth right throughout her range and she delivers every song, regardless of style, with an effortless elegance that captivates the listener, from the opening strains of the first track right to the dying notes of the final number.
The mix of her own melody rich original songs and four covers (including Dylan and Eric Anderson) is pitched perfectly and the sequencing of the tracks offers variety and interest throughout.
Her 4 piece band are excellent, with percussion, electric guitar, upright bass and violin ever present throughout and there are some memorable instrumental moments, but they always bow and take second place to the natural sway and rhythm of Eilen’s vocals.
While comparisons with Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch and The Be Good Tanyas are easy and obvious to make, these only point you in the general direction, ‘Letters from Sinners & Strangers’ is a memorable piece of work where all the elements come together to form a outstanding whole, and it’s a collection that compares favourably to the very best in the genre. Very highly recommended.