Eilen Jewell | Sea of Tears Music Review

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Eilen Jewell is finally back with her much anticipated third album, Sea of Tears. This Boise-born singer has made a big splash over the last few years bringing her western affinity for open roads and lonely drifters to the Boston folk and country scene. This new record marks a slight departure and a big risk for Eilen as she reins in some of her country flare and takes some tentative steps into the realm of classic rock.

Musically, the album credits Elvis, Buddy Holly, and the Animals as inspiration, mining that rich period in the ’50s and early ’60s when rock, R&B, and country were conjoined triplets. The album’s opening lick is vintage British invasion and the intro to her version of “I’m Gonna Dress in Black” gives a nod to “House of the Rising Sun.” In order to build this sound, Eilen and her band made some decisions that might ruffle the feathers of some of her country fans. Most notably, they dropped the fiddle entirely and replaced it (brilliantly in my opinion) with a Hammond B3 organ. (Full Disclosure: Any time I praise the Hammond B3, it should be taken with a grain of salt. I have an unabashed love affair with the B3 and I rejoice at even the slightest mitigation of the instrument’s sad, slow decline from its zenith in 1976).

But for all the change, the most important aspect of Eilen’s music remains: her ghostly delivery of blunt, hardscrabble lyrics. In the age of American Idol, Eilen’s no-nonsense approach to vocals has been referred to as “lazy,” but a better term is understated. She comes at you straight, because her lyrics are straight. In all the time I’ve spent listening to Eilen, I don’t think I’ve ever heard her use a metaphor. The stories she tells are blunt and universal. You broke my heart and left me in this little nothing of a town so now I’m sitting on your back porch with a very old, very loaded gun. Her voice is perfect for this kind of music. She sounds legitimately heartbroken 80 percent of the time and the other 20 percent she’s quietly smoldering with rage.

All around, Sea of Tears is an incredibly strong album of music that no one else is making these days. It’s possibly the best thing to come out of the Signature Sounds label this year and should have a strong showing at the Boston Music Awards. Check out the samples below. The title track is a great example of the band’s new direction while “Codeine Arms” is a heartbreaking ballad that makes the most of Eilen’s detached moodiness.

Albums available at Signature Sounds.

  • I also read about Becca Levy’s involvement in the Kids Saving Kids campaign which prompted me to check out her music. Not only is she an incredible young artist with an amazing voice but she is putting it to use for a great cause. It is rare to see such a young musician trying to be such a positive influence and I wish I could have had the opportunity to do what she is doing when I was younger.

  • I want to leave a comment for the post listed above. This is a really good and moving story which pointed out a 13-year-old girl, Becca Levy, uses her talent to save other kids’ life. It is hard to believe that music can bring such powerful influence and positive attitude to America. I will pass this information out to my friends, hoping they can submit the music to Illumina.



    What Becca Levy lacks in years she more than makes up for with heart. The 13-year-old Washington D.C. native has just entered her teens but has already had her fill of the drunk driving accidents that kill thousands each year.

    ?Did you know that every 32 minutes, a person dies is a drunk driving accident in America? When I learned this, I realized that this was something I wanted to do something about–and the best way was through music. It?s a language that all young people speak.? With that resolve behind her, Becca could not be happier about being named National Spokesperson for the Stop Drunk Driving Now Kid?s Saving Kid?s CD Campaign. The campaign marks the first time that talented young musicians from across America will work together to us their music to raise awareness about the dangers of driving under the influence.

    Here?s how it will work:
    A total of 30 artists will appear on a digitally distributed CD, and the music of these talented young people will be available for free downloading by anyone in America. When people visit the page to hear the music, they will see a host of messages–designed by high school and college students–about the brutal costs of drunk driving and prevention messages.

    Ronald Bellanti, president of Boston-based Illumina Records ?This is another weapon in our drunk driving prevention arsenal,? said he said. ?The earlier we start kids thinking about not getting behind the wheel drunk the better.”And that is exactly what the Kids Saving Kids Campaign will do. The artists that appear on the CD will all be under the age of 18. That means that the music will not only be created by young artists but geared to young listeners–the very people we need to start soaking in these messages.

    The uniqueness of this opportunity is not lost on the artists. ?What better way to use my music than to save other kids’ lives? Drunk driving affects everyone regardless of his or her age. I hope you will join me in this fight. Together we can all make a difference,? Becca said.

    To submit your music for consideration you must submit a MP3 or a WAV file of ONE of your songs. Also include your age, hometown, and YOUR PARENTS? contact information. You can submit your music at: ksksubmit@stopddnow.com

    You can learn more about Becca Levy and hear her music at http://www.beccalevy.com



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