Eilen Jewell

Queen of the Minor Key

Sometimes you find good things in unexpected places. I bought Eilen Jewell’s first album at a garage sale for 50 cents. I didn’t expect to like it because I thought it was likely its previous owner hadn’t liked it. But I was impressed with her voice and her songwriting and I made a mental note to keep an eye out for her stuff. Queen of the Minor Key is her latest album, and it’s a goodie. Ms. Jewell, a Boston singer/songwriter, lit out for the territories for a time, holing up in the wilds of Idaho in a place without electricity or running water. When she came down off that mountain, she had these 14 songs. Her voice is like honey on a warm scone, and her songs are clever, bristling with the kind of originality that makes old themes new. The song “Bang Bang Bang” made me laugh out loud at the slyness of its observation, and “I Remember You” is an evocative bit of nostalgia for a lost love, managing to say something novel on a subject that songwriters have written to death. I wouldn’t wait for this album to turn up in a garage sale. Not at mine, anyway; this one’s a keeper.