Eilen Jewell in Concert at 20th Century Theater on May 5

Eilen Jewell
Eilen Jewell

Eilen Jewell
20th Century Theater, 3021 Madison Rd, Cincinnati, OH
8pm, Buy Tickets

Honesty, confidence, and respect permeate Eilen Jewell’s music, dating back to her self-released Boundary County album in 2006. Since then, the Boise native has recorded five studio albums for Signature Sounds with her road-tested touring band, and two more as a member of the Boston-based gospel-charged Sacred Shakers (also on Signature Sounds), which includes that well-oiled band at its core. Her latest, Sundown Over Ghost Town, is a masterful culmination of Jewell’s work to date.


As hard as it is to categorize Jewell’s music—terms like alt-country, roots-rock, country-noir, and Americana get used a lot—it’s even harder not to become thoroughly enraptured by the singer/songwriter’s powerful versatility, musical stories, and images. And that gorgeous voice makes you feel like she’s singing just for you, out on the breezy back porch or by a crackling campfire. She does so much, so well.

Rich with cinematic visions, elegant sweet and smoky vocals, and hauntingly autobiographical songs, Sundown Over Ghost Town is bursting with stellar performances and is likely her most personal, fully realized album yet. And that’s saying a lot. The record, with all its songs penned by Jewell, is a poignant, ever-so-flavorful reflection of her return to Boise after nearly a decade in the Northeast.

“The way we approached recording this album was pretty consistent with our previous albums,” explains the singer, “in that my core band and I recorded together in a live style. We were our own producers, and we brought in a few guests to lend some extra layers.  The main difference is that everything was done in Idaho, and our guests were all local to this area. We tried not to let the long break influence anything. I wanted this album to stand on its own.” And stand on its own, it does. Magnificently.

“I grapple with this loss of innocence—the land’s as well as my own—in several songs. I used the phrase ‘ghost town’ in the title, not simply because it’s so uniquely western but also as a way of capturing how haunted a lot of these places are for me, full of memories.  I think it evokes a sense of loss, but an inherently beautiful one.” And those memories, those keen observations, and plenty of musical magic are shining on Sundown Over Ghost Town.