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Eilen Jewell, 'Crooked River'

Beth Herzhaft
Courtesy of the artist

Eilen Jewell strikes a balance between heartache and triumph in "Crooked River," recounting personal trials made universal through the song. Throughout her career, Jewell has carved a niche between blues and country; here, pedal steel, harmonica and electric guitar provide the backdrop for her story of climbing back up from a life turned upside down. Nicknamed "Queen of the Minor Key" for her penchant for both themes of hardship and her musical key preferences, she lives up to the moniker here with a mid-tempo Americana rocker that draws from her recent split with her husband, who was also her bandmate and manager.

"Crooked River" is both the place that Eilen Jewell sought solace and a metaphor for coming out of despair by following a difficult path that is anything but straight. With a voice as clear and clean as a mountain stream in her native Idaho, accented by a raw ache lingering in each phrase, she sings, "Well ol' loneliness she's haunted me forever / But I've learned to look her straight in the eye / And when she sneaks up on me down by Crooked River / Well she hardly ever even makes me cry."

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Joe Kendrick