San Diego's own bit of the heartland
Twenty-one years ago, Eve Selis set out to become a rock 'n' roll singer. Practicing in her parents' garage in San Diego's Allied Gardens neighborhood, every afternoon was spent singing into a p.a. system to the hits of the day.
While the rest of us kids in the neighborhood showered her with citrus from our family's trees in a primitive bit of arts criticism, Eve persevered. Kept at it, playing in clubs around town all through the '80s and early '90s, fronting local bar band Kings Road, apparently listening to everything she could find until she'd learned enough and absorbed enough to find her own way, her own voice.
Her third solo album, "Long Road Home," shows the results of that journey and it is a remarkable distillation of American music. Selis has captured the essence of the American sound on songs like "Just Three Words," "Far Far From Home" and the title track, the born-and-bred San Diegan sounds as much a part of the heartland as John Mellencamp, Dolly Parton or Muddy Waters. (Of course, John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival had as Southern a sound as any popular band of the rock era, and they hailed from the Bay Area.)
A big part of that Americana sound she has comes from her own pen Selis co-wrote 10 of the 14 songs here. They stand up very well next to her covers of Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, Wanda Jackson (a semi-hidden song tacked onto the last track) and the Beat Farmers' Joey Harris.
Selis doesn't have great range as a singer, but she does bring a carefully controlled intensity, a focusing of emotion that can be startling. She puts herself into each song in a very personal, intimate way; listening to her, it seems not so much as if she's singing but instead relating the events of her day to you.
Her backing band is a crack combo. Marc Twang's guitar lines are equal parts blues and country, while Bob Sale rides the drums with the same manic abandon of the Beat Farmers' late Country Dick Montana.
It's all enough to make you glad most of those flying lemons missed.
© Copyright Jim Trageser
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