Eleni Mandell Miracle Of Five

This L.A.-based songstress is something of a heroine in her hometown, winning best local singer/songwriter awards in the major papers there. She has a small but enthusiastic fan base elsewhere and they’re sure to be delighted with this, her sixth album. Her most stylistically consistent offering to date, it ranks alongside her stunning 1998 debut, Wishbone, as her best work. Mandell has an understated vocal style that oozes subtle sensuality and there is just enough detachment in her delivery to impart a noir-esque femme fatale vibe at times. She’s aided here by the excellent production work of keyboardist Andy Kaulkin and the clean mixing of Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck), while the presence of players like Nels Cline (Wilco) and X’s DJ Bonebrake (on vibes here) further helps the cause. The Instruments range from dobro, banjo and lap steel to mellotron, viola and horns, but all are used judiciously. Mandell’s haunting voice is always at the forefront, while her lyrics often adopt the playful and romantic tone of a woman in love (as on the title track and "Make-Out King”). She does have a way with words as well, with "wings in his eyes, filigreed fireflies, gray like the clouds blowing by” ("Wings In His Eyes”) just one of many quotable examples. A lovely disc, well worthy of a high five. (Zedtone)