Singer, songwriter and autoharp specialist Eileen (from Bradenton, Florida) has released three solo albums, of which Just Words is the latest. Like its predecessors, it's a marvellously listenable slice of Americana/country with an old-time bent, but set to lively, if gently managed electric rhythms. Eileen's singing has been (accurately) described as "emotive, clear and controlled", which just about sums it up - and the eleven new songs showcased here all have the ring of truth in their thoughtful, well-observed commentaries. Eileen's songs are self-evidently not "just words", while there's much to commend her liner epigram "Some words are just; Others, just words; Regardless, words matter". Versatility is the key; although protest song No More War Anymore and futuristic vision Five Thousand Seven Hundred And Seventy Five are both disc highlights, and the outstanding album closer Take Me Back, which has something of the wistful aura of a Sandy Denny composition, sure lingers long in the memory. None of the songs will musically disappoint, even though most of the other songs tackle more conventionally romantic themes and universal dilemmas, and do so with assurance a-plenty.
What might for the seasoned listener set this album apart initially from the stack of very-good-to-excellent Americana-cum-s/s albums, is the distinctive delicate, swirling timbre of the autoharp, which features on over half of the tracks (Eileen's website proclaims her as being "best known for her unique "pick-less" style of diatonic autoharp"; indeed, she's been a champion of the instrument for the past 25 years). The genial country flavour of Eileen's accompaniments fits well with her own style, and comes from an easy familiarity with her fellow-musicians John Kelly (electric guitar), Jeff Duncan (violin), Rob Pastore (pedal steel), Joe D'Angelo (drums), Thomas Helton (double bass) and producer Hank Woji (acoustic and 12-string guitars and harmonica).
Just Words has a long-lasting appeal and repeat-play quality, so I look forward to catching up with Eileen's earlier work sometime, as well as those she's made with the Well Tempered String Band (with Pete Peterson and Kellie Allen).
|Hannah Johnson: Shaken||Clark & Zuppardi: You, I And The Sky|
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