Eleni Mandell Artificial Fire

Eleni Mandell Artificial Fire
Mandell may just be too prolific and eclectic for her own good. This is her seventh album in 11 years, and showing different musical facets on each disc makes her difficult to pigeonhole. She's a heroine in her Los Angeles hometown and definitely deserves wider exposure elsewhere. The opening title track finds her returning to the noir-esque feel she has often explored before. Set in Montreal, it finds her confessing, "I'm a killer at heart, and I wanted to feel, so I laid out my trap with my artificial fire." Her sultry voice is capable of sounding tender, as on the lovely "Right Side" and "Tiny Waist," not just threatening, and there's a nice emotional arc to the tunes. Horn and string embellishments are used judiciously, and the guitar work throughout is a sweet treat. The record is closed by the neo-punk-ish assault of "Cracked," proving Mandell hasn't lost the capacity to surprise. Artificial Fire is a worthy addition to her now formidable body of work. (Zedtone)