Eleni Mandell – Artificial Fire

February 18, 2009

elenimandellLos Angeles based singer/songwriter Eleni Mandell set out to make her seventh album in ten years, Artificial Fire, with a specific goal in mind: “I want people to hear this record and have fun, more of a good time.” Not that her previous albums haven’t been fun, albums that musically have ranged from moody, film noir-ish rock and jazzy pop to forays into sultry torch songs and country music. The unpretentious eclecticism that has characterized her previous work is fully intact, however, and elements of all those aforementioned styles find their way into the fifteen Mandell original songs included here. The rockers she’s written for Artificial Fire have a punk and New Wave edge to them, not unlike Blondie or the Pretenders, and are strategically sprinkled throughout the record, essentially adding some extra punch to the beginning, middle and end. Mandell hasn’t really rocked out like this in some time, so those tracks are especially welcome. She’s backed on this album by an ace band that includes Ryan Feves (bass), Kevin Fitzgerald (drums) and Jeremy Drake (electric guitar), whose musicianship insures this is a consistently entertaining and sometimes surprising record to listen to from start to finish. Artificial Fire is a lot of sophisticated, playful fun, and if you don’t know Mandell’s work yet (and you really should, as she’s one of the American music scene’s greatest contemporary talents), this is a pretty good place to start getting acquainted. Standout cuts: “Artificial Fire,” “It Wasn’t The Time (It Was The Color),” “Bigger Burn” and “Cracked.”




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