On her atmospheric new album, Eilen Jewell grabs the wheel and steers us through desolate landscapes of despair, regret, longing, and loss, pulling over onto the shoulder for a cleansing plunge into the waters of compassion, and pulling back onto life’s highway renewed with tentative hopes for the power of love and community.
The swampy, slow-burning “Alive” opens quietly with the haunting reverb guitar notes and Jewell’s plaintive vocals, but it soon soars into a full-on roaming and prowling Creedence Clearwater Revival-inflected miasmic symphony, thanks to the guitar-drenched instrumental bridge. The soulful “Crooked River” flows gently on cascading streams of glistening steel guitar, with electric guitar and harmonica playing call and response to the steel strains. It’s a gorgeous testament to the potential for restoration and moving on.
“You Were a Friend of Mine” rolls in on snare strikes and sparkling electric guitar notes and strums; it sonically resembles Kelly Willis’ “What I Deserve,” and the echoing early rockabilly lead run on the instrumental bridge conveys the singer’s regret and longing. The unfurling steel on “Winnemucca” evokes the joy of the open road, and the instrumental bridge features the soaring steel guitar dueling with a jangly electric guitar in Byrds-like fashion.
Early sixties pop—think Lesley Gore—meets laid-back rockabilly on “Could You Would You,” an invitation to love, while the minor chord rockabilly/surf guitar-filled “Lethal Love,” is an ode to the dark side of love. The soul jazz psychedelically flavored “Come Home Soon” rides along a B.B. King-like guitar groove flowing under Jewell’s haunting vocals on the song’s refrain.
Get Behind the Wheel, Jewell’s ninth album, haunts with its beauty, refreshes with its candor, and Jewell’s pure and clear vocals reverberate in our hearts and souls.
Get Behind the Wheel is available HERE.