- Personnel: Eilen Jewell (vocals, acoustic guitar, organ); Jason Beek (vocals, drums, percussion); Jerry Miller (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric 12-string guitar); Jerry Miller (acoustic guitar, electric 6-string guitar, electric 12-string guitar); Johnny Sciascia (upright bass, electric bass, 6-string bass).
- Audio Mixer: Chris Rival.
- Recording information: Middleville Studio.
- There is nothing wrong with providing retro music as long as the artist does it convincingly, and singer/songwriter Eilen Jewell is quite convincing on Sea of Tears. The era that she sets out to re-create on this 2009 release is the 1960s; this is '60s-flavored roots rock with elements of '60s blues (Chess Records' electric Chicago blues is an obvious influence), '60s soul and '60s country. And not only does Sea of Tears emulate the '60s stylistically -- even Jewell's production recalls that decade. But Jewell's ability to make a 2009 release sound like it could have been recorded in 1967 or 1968 wouldn't mean much if she didn't know how to get her points across emotionally; Jewell is quite expressive, which isn't to say that she is an aggressive or forceful type of vocalist. Actually, Jewell's vocals are subtle, understated, and relaxed, but that doesn't make her any less expressive on moody, melancholy originals such as "Codeine Arms," "Rain Roll In," and "Fading Memory." Jewell, in fact, is as melancholy on her own material as she is on memorable performances of "I'm Gonna Dress in Black" (a brooding gem that Van Morrison performed when he was a member of Them in the '60s) and Loretta Lynn's "The Darkest Day." Sea of Tears is a highly appropriate title for this 38-minute CD, which is as dark as it is compelling. A lot of great art has been the result of darker emotions, and darker emotions certainly yield excellent results for Jewell on Sea of Tears. ~ Alex Henderson
Dirty Linen (p.60) - "'House of the Rising Sun,' finds her edging toward a full-throated blues shout, and doing it very well. Her control of her vibrato continues to be impressive."