With a Brian Setzer-esque inflection in the guitar tone and jazzy minor chords that bring the world of film noir to mind, the tune “My Hometown” is an intriguing homage by singer/songwriter Eilen Jewell. On the one hand, there’s a lovingness here as Jewell pays her respects to her hometown: “If sweetness had a sound / It’d sound like my hometown,” she sings. On the other hand, the desert noir mood evoked by the patient, legato strums of clean-toned electric guitar gives the titular town a strong sense of mystery. These two elements—tenderness and mystique—serve as a reminder that no matter how much we love the places we call home, there’s always a magic ambiance to them that prevents us from being able to fully put into words what makes them so special. A phrase like “If sweetness had a sound” is both evocative and vague; in this way, Jewell invites the listener in to experience her understanding of her hometown whilst simultaneously conveying its ineffability. That paradox, when combined with “My Hometown”‘s lovelily lonely sound, makes this tune a gem.
Jewell says to PopMatters, “‘My Hometown’ is my tribute to Boise, Idaho, where I was born and raised. When I was writing the song, my goal was to be specific enough to pay homage to my favorite little city, but I wanted it also to be general enough to evoke a sense of home in any listener, regardless of their familiarity with that particular town. I thought a lot about the song ‘Summertime’ and how what comes across most directly to me in that song is a feeling of security and ease. I feel at home when I hear it, even though, where I’m from, there’s no cotton growing. I think it’s all about the space between the notes and the rhythm that just gently sways. Though they’re two very different songs, in essence, both of them are lullabies.”
Sundown Over Ghost Town will be out in late May via Signature Sounds.