“Get Behind the Wheel” by Eilen Jewell (Signature Sounds)
The swagger of Eilen Jewell’s ninth studio album offers no hint it came together after she thought her career might be over amid a succession of personal setbacks.
Instead of calling it quits, Jewell found the inspiration that led to “Get Behind the Wheel,” an engaging collection of slightly psychedelic songs that evoke the sprawling landscape of her native Idaho.
The set benefits by stellar electric guitar work from Jerry Miller, whose solos shimmer, chime, slash and burn. He plays twangy tag with Fats Kaplin’s pedal steel on three songs, and teams with co-producer Will Kimbrough to create a celebratory twin-guitar squall on the cathartic “Alive.”
The accompaniment elevates Jewell’s tunes about love at high volume and the cycle of life. “Lethal Love” has a ’50s vibe thanks to a rumba beat propelled by drummer Jason Beek, and “Outsiders” would fit in a Spaghetti Western. The set also includes imaginative covers of Van Morrison (“Could You Would You”) and Jackie DeShannon (“Breakaway”).
Jewell closes with a hazy, cinematic ballad about rebooting. It’s titled “The Bitter End,” but the album sounds more like a new beginning.