Miracle Of Five - Mandell, Eleni
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Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Eleni Mandell has been feeling the love from critics and fellow musicians in the States ever since her debut, Wishbone (1999 - produced by Jon Brion, of Dido, Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright, Evan Dando fame). Virtually unnoticed here in Australia, her career to date has been a tantalizing build-up to her superb new longplayer and debut for V2 Records, Miracle of Five.
Miracle of Five is at once the quintessence and the culmination of Mandell's vibrant oeuvre. From the opening song, the hushed, intimate, "Moonglow, Lamp Low," to the closing elegiac ballad "Miss Me," the richly nuanced album maintains its mood and subtle momentum, creating a world of its own. This is without question the young artist's most coherent album, and her most eloquent, optimistic and beautiful as well.
Mandell assembled a group of talented and supportive players, including Wilco lead guitarist Nels Cline, X drummer DJ Bonebrake (who plays vibes here), her longtime rhythm section of drummer Kevin Fitzgerald and bassist Ryan Feves, reed player Jeff Turmes (James Harman, Badly Drawn Boy) and keyboardist Andy Kaulkin (head of Epitaph Records and session man to Merle Haggard, R.L. Burnside and others), who also produced. Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith) did the mixing.
"I see Eleni as the missing link between Hoagy Carmichael and Leonard Cohen," says Andy Kaulkin. "She belongs to an older tradition of American songwriting. And these new songs are amazing-much better than anything she's ever written before. There's a line in every song that's gonna stick with you."
"When I hear my songs, I definitely hear the classic American songwriter / showtunes influence," says Mandell. "My mother took me to shows as a kid, and I listened to the soundtracks over and over. Then I became very taken with the songs of Gershwin, Porter, Rogers & Hammerstein as interpreted by Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. That was where my parents' tastes intersected. My dad turned me on to practically everything else - Hank Williams, the Beatles, Bob Dylan."