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Afternoon
Eleni Mandell

On her fifth album, Eleni Mandell builds on the promise of her earlier work and delivers her most confident and accessible collection of songs yet. Accompanied by her tight touring band - Joshua Grange (guitars), Ryan Feves (bass) and Kevin Fitzgerald (drums) - she glides comfortably from acoustic ballads and pure country to hard rockers and sultry blues. Eleni's magic is that she makes every style her own. Recently feted as the best songwriter in Los Angeles by LA Weekly (an honor shared with the late Elliott Smith), Eleni celebrates women who can dish out heartache as well as they can take it. After one listen, everyone will want to be Eleni Mandell's afternoon.

Eleni Mandell: The Sexiness of Subtlety
By John Schacht
(Paste, April, 2004)

Forget Britney and Madonna stage-snogging at some MTV function or Janet's "wardrobe malfunction." Nothing's quite as sexy as the first hushed whispers of "American Boy," the opener of Eleni Mandell's fifth full-length release, Afternoon. By the time you reach the radioactive heat generated by the penultimate "Dangerous," you'll find that Afternoon has caressed your face, breathed its hot breath gently into your ear, pulled you into the bedroom, and ... well, you can picture the rest which is precisely the point.

"Sexy to me is sincere, subtle and mysterious," says Mandell, citing the allure of Grace Kelly as an example.

Mandell freely admits she has an "overactive imagination," and on Afternoon the leash comes off. A master storyteller (like a key influence, Tom Waits), Mandell roots around in the darker corners of what the simple-mined might call dysfunctional relationships. It's a rich vein to mine, as she always emerges with unforgettable characters, noir-ish victims of their own desires. Afternoon's cast includes the sexy mistress ("Afternoon"), the longing lover ("American Boy"), the mistreated girlfriend ("Can't You See I'm Soulful," "County Line") and the carnal girl at the heart of every man's fantasy ("Dangerous").

Her previous release, Country for True Lovers, was a change-up from earlier, cabaret-rock-based records, corralling praise from both the country and alt.country communities. Afternoon splits the difference, returning in part to the L.A.-noir rock of Mandell's first three records while maintaining a soulful twang in places - courtesy of Joshua Grange's pedal steel. The City of Angels can be notoriously cruel to dreamers and Mandell remains there, but that's part of the draw, says Mandell. The musical cross-pollination has resulted in what she calls her "most accessible" record yet.

"I still have moments when I wish I could have the validation of the record industry, and a big paycheck would be nice," she confesses. "But being independent, I don't have the hassle of the suits telling me what to do, and I get to make great music that I'm proud of and have a hell of a good time doing it."

 

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