Eilen Jewell: Gypsy review – Country-folk-blues singer rolls with the changes
There is a distinctive otherness in the hazy voice of Boise, Idaho native Eilen (pronounced E-lin) Jewell, a quality that can shape-shift from lost and lonely to bluesy and (mildly) brassy with ease.
But whether she is taking on the blues, as on 2017’s Down Hearted Blues, or more country-folk songs, she is consistent in her understated roadhouse approach – her music never sounds overly packaged or slick. That is also a tribute to her fine band, notably guitarist Jerry Miller.
Gypsy, her eighth album, pulls together many key influences. There is the harder, bluesy edge of Crawl and Working Hard for Your Love, the classic country irony of You Cared Enough to Lie (this wonderful Pinto Bennett song is the only cover) and These Blues, or the folky sign-off, Fear.
Eilen Jewell - Crawl
The album is informed by personal change – she is now 40 and a mother – and political upheaval. The sense of searching has been replaced with a sense of mission; 79 Cents (the Meow Song) tackles, humorously, inequality, both racial and gender, while Beat the Drum and Hard Times place her in the musical wing of the resistance.
All very worthy and enjoyable if mostly short of exceptional.