CD Reviews for 09/07/10 – Eilen Jewell, The Steeldrivers

Compact Capsules
by Dan Ferguson

Eilen Jewell
Butcher Holler: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn
Signature Sounds Records

If you’ve caught an Eilen Jewell Band show any time over the last several years, you’re probably aware of her fondness for Loretta Lynn. Frankly speaking, hardly a show goes by without at least one Lynn cover. With Butcher Holler, Jewell takes her love of Lynn to full proportions offering an entire album of Lynn covers in tribute to the Queen of the Honky Tonks. Backed by her crack band who ride her every crest & valley, Jewell goes honky tonkin’ on Butcher Holler with faithful renditions of hits (“Fist City”), obscurities (“Give Me a Lift”), and even a few of Lynn’s patented controversial numbers. While no new ground is broken here, Butcher Holler in the very capable voice of Jewell and instrumentally in the hands of her top notch band is pure country. Visit

The Steeldrivers
Rounder Records

Once again in contrast to the pristine (i.e., sterile) sounds of all too many bands out there playing bluegrass, the Nashville-based super group of sorts The Steeldrivers keep to the same rough-edged-but-right formula on sophomore release Reckless that made their self-titled debut the great listen it was. A who’s who of long-time Americana types who’ve dabbled in everything from hard to alt country and blues to folk, The Steeldrivers feature Mike Henderson, Tammy Rogers, Chris Stapleton, Richard Bailey and Mike Fleming. The dozen songs comprising Reckless move from fast moving hard drivers (“The Reckless Side of Me”, “Guitars, Whiskey, Guns & Knives”) to laments knee deep in country tonic (“Good Corn Liquor”) to a heapin’ helping of broken hearted balladry (“You Put the Hurt On Me”) to grassy numbers with a bluesy tinge (the standout track “The Price”, “Higher Than the Wall”, “Ghosts of Mississippi”). If you like your bluegrass with an edge, Reckless from The Steeldrivers is pure satisfaction. Visit

(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at [email protected].)<...