Eilen Jewell: Letters from Sinners and Strangers (Signature)

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Eilen Jewell: Too Hot to Sleep
Eilen Jewell: Letters from Sinners and Strangers (Signature)

This singer-songwriter from Idaho (originally, then LA and latterly Massachusetts) will be deluding herself if she thinks that no one will say "early Lucinda Williams" when they hear the track In the End here: the same world-weary, vowel dragging delivery . . .

But Jewell has much more going for her than that comparison: with a small band (clarinet, upright bass, violin) she flits between country-jazz and small-hours slightly hungover blues. Which means some have placed her somewhere between a more upbeat Gillian Welch and a polished white Bessie Smith, which seems fair enough.

She's got the country-swing thing down neatly (Heartache Boulevard) and although she's too urban and urbane to write your name on a Dusty Boxcar Wall (as she sings on the Eric Anderson song here) there are many easy charms on display here.

She has certainly picked up a number of good notices in the States -- and this album appeared on a few country music "best of" lists from last year.

I can hear why, because she also comes with a cracking wee band.

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