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Eleni Mandell

Miracle of Five – 2007 (Zedtone)

Reviewed by Jacquilynne Schlesier

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CDs by Eleni Mandell

Eleni Mandell has the vocal and emotional range to move effortlessly amongst genres from traditional country to contemporary jazz, and her latest effort contains influences from across that range, but they're subtly blended into her hallmark noirish style. It's easy to imagine her in a black and white film - a sultry singer on the stage of a smoky night club. Every vocal adds to the air of exoticism and mystery.

The intimate songs cover classic torch territory, but there's a kernel of optimism. Mandell's songs of missing romance, especially "My Twin," are as much about lovers not yet discovered as lost loves. She breathes life into small moments, like holding hands ("Miracle of Five") or looking out the window at a setting sun ("Moonglow, Lamp Low").

Producer Andy Kaulkin recorded her vocals with only a single guitar as accompaniment, then filled in the tracks around her. The result is music that floats behind, never drawing attention away from her voice. That leaves that voice free to draw you into Eleni Mandell's somewhat dark, slightly askew, but very enticing world.