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Monday, July 20, 2009

Eleni Mandell matures into her own teenage dreams

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Los Angeles-based singer Eleni Mandell has always been a dabbler. While her rich voice served as a constant, Mandell has swung through various musical styles on her releases over the past decade. Her new album, Artificial Fire, finds Mandell combining her disparate interests into an upbeat, cohesive collection. "My early writing was so much about being sad and in turmoil, or angry," she says. "My younger self would be pleased that I decided to have fun and bring a lot of joy to the music."

Starting out with heavy, noirish rock and roll torch songs on early albums like Wishbone and Thrill, Mandell later conjured flirtatious Nashville on 2003's Country for True Lovers, sauntered through jazz on the following year's EP Maybe, Yes, and sang conventional songs-for-guitar on 2007's Miracle of Five. Then she also spends time with the Living Sisters and the Grabs, side projects that let her play around with straightforward, forceful pop-rock. These stylistic departures have been experiments for Mandell, who says she's eager to explore different emotions, ideas and sides of her personality through her music. Through it all, Mandell has rarely fallen flat, and her vintage leanings have avoided the sticky easiness of kitsch.

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(Photo by Lauren Dukoff)

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