Down Hearted Blues
I have a bias for performers who create their own material. I suppose its part of coming of age in the ’70s when the whole singer songwriter thing was the standard. Before the Beatles changed the rules for everyone, the norm was that performers were the interpreters of other people’s work. In country music, the division between writers and performers is still pretty standard. I mean, when you look at the songs that made Glen Campbell famous, they were not tunes that he wrote but his performance made them his.
I’m making this confession because Down Hearted Blues is a collection of blues standards that Eilen Jewell makes sound like they were written for her. I know she’s doing songs written by the likes of Willie Dixon and Memphis Minnie and Alberta Hunter. She’s not the first to record “Crazy Mixed Up World” and she won’t be the last. The thing is, a great performer creates a space where even familiar material sounds new and fresh. I put on this disc and I’m drawn into the performances. I enjoy what Jewell does with the songs. Her band is tight and Jerry Miller provides some tasty guitar leads. My head is bopping to her take on “Walking With Frankie” and I’m feeling the soul on “Down Hearted Blues”. So yeah, pop open a beer and settle down to enjoy a really nice show. What more can I ask for, really?