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Boundary County
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  • Eilen Jewell's country-blues flavored folk on Boundary County will remind listeners of many new, talented women singer/songwriters without ever seeming like a copy. Like Jolie Holland, she slurs her muffled vocals on a series of original songs and accomplishes the neat trick of evoking tradition. Like the Be Good Tanyas, Jewell relies on fairly eclectic arrangements, though she's more progressive in her marriage of electric and acoustic elements. The slow, sad "So Long Blues" ventures toward pure country with Jerry Miller's lap steel underpinning Jewell's lonesome vocal, while the spunky "Gotta Get Right" captures a more folksy feel with banjo and mandolin. On both, Johnny Sciascia's upright bass is heavy in the mix and sounds more like an electric bass. Jewell is also frequently joined on the choruses by drummer Jason Beek's deeper, raspier voice, an intriguing combination in which both voices intertwine while keeping their identities. A couple of the songs -- "The Flood" and "Blow It All Away" -- seem a bit long, and it's easy, especially with the latter, to allow Jewell's lazy, bluesy vocal to fade into the background. These tracks, along with the two that follow and bring the album to a close, lack the vim and vigor of the album's earlier tracks. The first two-thirds of Jewell's Boundary County, however, is well-written, well-sung, and well performed, and will please fans progressive traditional-flavored music. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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