Eilen Jewell: A One-Woman Girl-Group Salute

Originally published on May 12, 2011 10:22 am

In a cabin with no running water or electricity in the mountains of Idaho, Eilen Jewell set her mind to updating the girl-group sound when she wrote "Warning Signs," an irresistible cut from her new album, Queen of the Minor Key. A fan of beehived warblers since childhood, Jewell has the vocal goods to carry off this sort of homage: She's got a sweet and clear voice with a killer instinct lurking beneath the shiny surface. In this particular number, she's blinded by an evil guy's "bad juju" and "weird voodoo" until a black widow spider, a hissing rattlesnake and a winking raven tip her off to the signs she'd missed.

Jason Beek's powerhouse drums set an appropriately '60s-style pop beat, while David Sholl's honking sax serves up a gutsy slice of early R&B. As for the singer's naïve-but-tough persona, it surely owes a debt to groups like The What Four, who had a similar story (and timbre) in the hit "I'm Gonna Destroy That Boy." There may be trouble lurking around the corner in "Warning Signs," but Jewell can handle anything she faces.

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