Miracle Of Love
Zedtone Records, 2007
REVIEW BY: Melanie Love
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/04/2008
Described a few years ago by New York Magazine as “perhaps the best unsigned artist in the business,” Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell has carved a formidable niche for herself on the indie scene over the last decade, having released seven full-length albums, one EP and two 7”s all from beyond the ties of the major media companies. 2007’s Miracle Of Five is a stunning collection of warm, witty lo-fi tracks that weaves elegantly through the categories of blues, jazz and pop without skipping a beat.
Launching the album out is “Moonglow, Lamp Low,” on which Mandell’s soulful, sultry voice unfolds like smoke to a backing of loose acoustic guitar strums (courtesy of newest bandmember, guitarist Jeremy Drake) and lovely saxophone soloing. “Moonshine dreamtime/all I need is a goldmine/And true love/Just like sugar in my coffee,” she sings wistfully, making this whisper-weight song hit home with surprising intensity.
Next up, “Girls” is a sunny daydream of a track, sweet and catchy thanks to lines like “I am a marble the color of candy/I’ll make you money whenever you’re gambling/I am the dice you roll in the alley/I am the pennies that come in handy,” delivered in crisp, evocative vocals that at times recall Ella Fitzgerald.
Produced by keyboardist Andy Kaulkin, the album is warmly intimate and colored through with wide-eyed optimism, seen in the bluesy rhythms and picturesque images of “Wings In His Eyes” and the disc’s title track, an ode to the wonderfully simple pleasure of holding someone’s hand that has a shimmering, almost folk-pop feel. Meanwhile, “Salt Truck” builds upon the experience of navigating the highway during a harrowing snowstorm, using the metaphor of the salt truck that coated the slippery roads to spin a tale of uplifting hope, aided by the track’s light flickers of guitar, solid drums from Kevin Fitzgerald and Ryan Feve’s buoying bass.
Other standouts include the stark, smoky “Beautiful,” whose hushed instrumentation allows Mandell’s voice, at its most seductive, to truly shine, and “My Twin,” a dark, alluringly atmospheric offering that puts forth the possibility of an unmet soulmate dying in a plane crash.
Miracle Of Five is a memorable release that is from start to finish evocative, keenly articulated and above all affecting; this is one to buy, and Mandell remains one to watch.