Eilen Jewell @ The Sound House, Dublin - 10th Nov 2017

Jewell’s crack band started to play the opening song before she stepped onstage to say “good to see you Dublin, it’s been awhile.” She then led the band through a series of numbers that spanned from the title song of her debut album Boundary County through to several titles from her latest release Down Hearted Blues. The range of music covered was equally diverse from the blues of songs such as the title track of the new album which featured drummer Jason Beek on washboard and guitarist Jerry Miller on Jewell’s acoustic guitar through a solo folk cover of Bob Dylan’s Kingsport Town where the clarity of Jewell’s voice was even more apparent. There was also the honky-tonk of Heartache Boulevard and the 50’s styled rock of I Remember You. She also revealed that a pre-gig preview warned she would be in some kinda trouble if she didn’t play a Loretta Lynn song in the show. “I don’t want to be in trouble in Ireland” she said and duly delivered You Want To Give Me a Lift.

Throughout the set Jewell engaged with the audience telling us about the origins of some of the songs. How she discovered her father’s collection of blues’ albums and noted that if her father had actually given them to her that she would have told him they were tedious. Also, that as a parent, that if you want your kids to like something it would be best to hide it from them! Raised in Ohio she, as a teenager, just wanted to find the quickest way to leave. However she now lives back in Ohio and loves the space the State offers. Some of her songs were inspired by that desert of the location, even though while she said she loved it, it was not a reciprocal relationship. As for musicians from Idaho she reckoned it was down to her and Josh Ritter (but one should not forget the Idaho cowboy Pinto Bennett who flew the flag for the State some years back).

Other songs form tonight’s 24 song set included High Shelf Blues, Santa Fe, Sea Of Tears Hallelujah Band, Wandering Signs, Another Night To Cry and Don’t Leave Poor Me. The latter three all from the new blues album. Theses songs showed the dexterous skill of Miller who was as much at ease with the blues as he was with every other aspect of the band’s roots related sound. Down Hearted Blues allowed upright bassist Shawn Supra to shine with a melodic solo. Both players received ovations for their abilities as did Beek who also took his turn in the spotlight with his rhythmic turn on the vintage washboard for the two acoustic based blues songs.

After her solo spot on the Dylan song Jewell brought the players on again for a crowd pleasing take on the Johnny Kidd and The Pirates classic Shakin’ All Over, a song that was requested by some audience members and of which Jewell noted that they hadn’t played in over 3 years but this being Dublin … well how could she refuse. It was a perfect end to the evening with many of the audience joining in on the chorus and applauding Miller inclusion of selections from other well known guitar riffs in the extended instrumental breaks. The Queen of the Minor Key and her band ruled and she promised to return to Dublin soon. A city she informed us that she had loved, even before visiting, from her love of James Joyce - whose Portrait Of An Artist was the subject of a thesis she had written in her 20s.

For many this was the first visit to The Sound House on Eden Quay and it proved to be a venue that should be added to the list of those suited to hosting Roots/Americana music. 

Review by Stephen Rapid  Photography by Kaethe Burt-O'Dea