Elvis Presley was the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, Michael Jackson was the King of Pop, Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul and now let it be known that Eilen Jewell is “Queen of the Minor Key,” as the title of her new album so boldly declares.
“It started off as a little, offhand remark that a musician friend of ours said,” she says. “We were doing a show together and in announcing me, he mentioned something like, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the Queen of the Minor Key,’ and he kind of snickered.”
Jewell prefers to protect the identity of her coronator: “He’s so nice he’d probably be like, ‘Oh, that breaks my heart that you thought I was making fun of you,’ but he totally was!”
The songs on the new album range in style from roots rock to country to ’50s-style rave-ups, but most have that minor key sound as a backdrop for characters who don’t quite connect.
“In sadness and in longing and in failing to connect, there’s a lot of dynamic,” says Jewell. “I feel like happiness is a complete thing, and everything’s all settled — but if there’s unhappiness, then … that’s where I find it to be kind of charged with energy.”
It is this studied appreciation that at times gives “Queen” an upbeat spark, and makes the moments where she does hit major chords really shine.
“I don’t like to wallow in misery,” says Jewell, “but at the same time I do find a lot of beauty in it.”