Published Jul 22, 2015After making a splash with her 1999 debut, Wishbone, critically acclaimed L.A.-based singer/songwriter Eleni Mandell has put out albums at a highly prolific rate. She has consistently refused to make the same record twice, and her fascinating musical journey has encompassed rock, folk, country, pop, jazz and cabaret stylings. Dark Lights Up, her tenth album, is similarly eclectic, but the consistency of the sound keeps it from seeming scattered.
For the first time, Mandell self-produced, and she used the sparse and clean style of country great Roger Miller as inspiration. Her clear and supple voice is placed right up in the mix, ably supported by subtle, acoustic-based instrumentation (guitar, upright bass, drums, piano, trumpet and flugelhorn), while the male voice duetting on "Baby, Don't Call" is a nice touch. Tunes range from wistful ("Someone To Love Like You" and "China Garden Buffet") to whimsical ("I'm Old Fashioned") to jaunty (the finger-snappingly catchy "Cold Snap" and "If You Wanna Get Kissed"), and the mix of moods and tones will hold your attention.
Those into the PJ-Harvey-meets-Tom-Waits sound of early Mandell albums have likely long since moved on, but her charming current work remains highly worthy of attention. (Yep Roc)