Eleni Mandell Thrill

Eleni Mandell is a woman of many faces and voices. The photograph of her inside the CD case makes her look like a silent movie star from the 1920s, while the one on the front is more like a Betty Page pose. Some of the songs conjure up images of Marlene Dietrich in Cabaret, yet others have a Latin feel. Add to that a voice that sounds a lot like PJ Harvey, but can also be just your run of the mill chanteuse, and things get really confusing. Pinning one label onto Eleni is not easy and would not really help anyone. Instead, this Los Angeles native is a complex animal that you never truly get close enough to. If you did, you might be able to look directly in her eyes to see what lurks behind. That might not be the best thing, though, because the singer of such songs as "No Good, No More" and "Nightmare Song" might not be the sweet little girl she appears to be. Thrill gathers together 13 tales of love, seen through the eyes of a woman too cynical not to be in love but too cool to admit it. Stylistically, the music is all over the place, just like her range, which swoops and soars even in the quietest of songs. And even while wearing her heart on her sleeve, there's something more menacing lurking below; Eleni remains enigmatic to the end. (Zedtone)