minor key jewell


eilen jewell. photo by liz linder.

Among the crowd pleasing tunes created by the Missouri Americana rock troupe The Bottle Rockets is a road anthem titled Indianapolis. It’s tale of vehicular woe set in the city of the same name.

“Can’t go west, can’t go east,” the song goes. “I’m stuck in Indianapolis with a fuel pump that’s deceased.” Indie blues/country stylist Eilen (pronounced ee-lynn) Jewell is currently living her own variation of that saga. She’s not stuck in Indianapolis, which works out great for us as she will spotlight the noir-style songs from her recent Queen of the Minor Key album tonight at Natasha’s. Her touring van? Well, that’s another story.

“It’s been a challenging tour,” Jewell said. “Our van’s transmission died, so it now lives Indianapolis. We’re not sure how we’re going to reunite. We’re currently crammed into a SUV that’s way too small. But we’re getting to the gigs, so it could be worse.”

A current Bostanian (but a native of Idaho who has also lived in Santa Fe and Los Angeles, which explains the occasional Western imagery in her songs), Jewell designs a warm but torchy mood for many of the arresting songs on Queen of the Minor Key with help from a sleek sounding quartet and cameos by swing and twang vocal greats Big Sandy and Zoe Muth..

Atmosphere, she said, is among the most critical components of her songs.

“It’s easy for musicians to over think what they’re doing with their songs. For me music has always been about the feel as opposed to what is going on intellectually so long as the album has the right feel and each song is given the treatment it seems to be asking for. That way you kind of organically come up with the sound.”

But the sound of Queen of the Minor Key, which consists entirely of Jewel’s original songs, is a dramatic shift from the focus of her 2010 album Butcher Hollow. As the recording’s Kentucky-rooted title suggests, the music is drawn exclusively from the country-rooted songs written and recorded by Loretta Lynn.

“My band and I kind of let each of those songs do their own thing,” Jewell said. “It’s tough when you’re doing all cover material. You don’t want to strictly imitate what the original artist did. There’s not much point in that. But you don’t want to alter things too much either. Tinkering with a song makes it into a totally different thing.

“I didn’t want to just do the obvious Loretta songs, either. I wanted songs that spoke to me personally, that I could see myself singing lyrics to. People kept asking me why we didn’t record Coal Miner’s Daughter. Well, I’m not a coal miner’s daughter, so I couldn’t see myself singing those words as well as, say, Fist City. I don’t know what that says about me.”

Eilen Jewell performs at 9 tonight at Natasha’s Bistro, 112 Esplanade. Cover charge is $10. Call (859) 259-2754.

Comments are closed.

Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | About Our Ads | Copyright