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Jewell successfully visits her other hometown

The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., June 29, 2023

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

"This is my other hometown," opined Idaho native and current resident Eilen Jewell, the country/Americana artist who left Beantown for Boise nearly a decade ago.

That wasn't the only thing familiar about Jewell's outing before a rare seated crowd at the venue. Jewell was at the top of her game once again, and it sure helped she had her ace in the hole with a great backing band.

Jewell is touring behind her very fine new album, "Get Behind the Wheel." She wasn't shy about leaning on it either, starting with "Crooked River" with shimmering guitar from Jerry Miller. Jewell's music is based on country with a nod to Americana as well. The slower-paced "Alive, featured Jewell holding notes with a bluesy feel and "Lethal Love," one of the album's best tracks, were among the standouts.

She also went in a few different directions thanks to covers, including "Breakaway" and the punchy, neo-soulful delivery of "Could You Would You," a Them song courtesy of Van Morrison, both from the new disc. She paid homage to Loretta Lynn (Jewell once recorded a tribute album to Lynn) with "Whispering Sea," Eric Andersen's "Dusty Box Car Wall" and a medley of Bessie Smith songs to close out the regular set. Each reading by Jewell fit her well and displayed her musical diversity.

This wasn't only Jewell's show, though, because the crowd played a role as well, suggesting three songs that Jewell played including "Bang Bang Bang." And upright bassist Matt Murphy had the chance to ask for "Mess Around" at Jewell's behest. Nice way to keep it engaged and fun.

As for the band, that would be Miller on guitar; Jason Beek on drums and Matt Murphy on upright bass. Jewell has been working with all three for a long time. She joked after the show that she was Miller's mentor (she did play acoustic and electric guitar during the concert). Simply put, Miller never ever fails to mightily impress. Decked out in sunglasses, a black hat and a gray ponytail, Miller is one sharp player, coaxing a variety of sounds out of his axe. He always seemed to hit the right note without overdoing it. Beek and Murphy capably kept the rhythm section going with Murphy having a few turns soloing and Beek always steady. Beek, Jewell's ex-husband, also helped out on backing vocals.

Jewell closed out the 100-minute show with Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Green River," which she described as the perfect summer song. The song is about returning home to the comfort of good, familiar times. That about summed up what it was like having Jewell back in town. Beantown is her hometown (too).

Michael Tarbox opened with a very satisfying blues-based set. Tarbox, who is known for leading the Tarbox Ramblers, was seated playing away one everything from country blues to a more rumbling blues sound ("Travelin' Light") to a Dylan-based bent ("Night Train to Chelsea").

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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