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Miracle of Five Review
By Erin Meister
(Bust Magazine, January, 2007)

Los Angeles' sultry singing-songwriting kitten Eleni Mandell is proving that the sixth time's the charm with her gorgeous new LP. Literate, well-paced, and graceful, Miracle joins Mandell's five oher full-length releases and solidifies the artist's place on the pedestal of indie goddesses, alongside femme fatales like PJ Harvey and NIco. With a set of pipes as alluring as Cat Powers' and an apparently deep admiration for Tom Waits, Mandell carves herself a lonesome highway somewhere between the Heartbreak Hills and Whiskey Peninsula. The album's opening spong, "Moonglow, Lamp Low," is the sort of sweetly soft, strummy tune that is best hummed to oneself on the back porch during a long summer night, and most of the tracks follow suit. Because the vocals were recorded solo - the band was dubbed later - Mandell's smoky croon is the centrepiece of every song, injecting inimacy and warmth throughout. "Make-Out King" is a brilliant and wry anti-love tune, and "Beautiful"'s dark corners scratch at Mandell's feelings for the masterful Waits. The loping country flair of the closing song "Miss Me," will probably cause the listener to do just that - and all we can do is wear out our copies of Miracle until Mandell blesses us with her next project.

Miracle of Five Review
By Hal Horowitz
(All Music Guide, January, 2007)

It's difficult to review any Eleni Mandell album without using the words "torchy" and "chanteuse," and Miracle of Five -- her sixth release -- is no exception. However, this recording was approached uniquely. Producer/keyboardist Andy Kaulkin captured Mandell solo, singing the songs while strumming on her nylon-stringed guitar, overdubbing the rest of the band later. While that might seem a bit artificial for such rootsy, jazz-tinged music, the results justify the means. Mandell sounds relaxed and there is a spaciousness to the material resulting from Kaulkin's ability to add and subtract instruments at will. Mandell's voice has shifted from its once edgy PJ Harvey timbre to a far more luxurious, breathy style, similar to Aimee Mann, especially on the languorous "Salt Truck." This is hushed, melancholy music that remains sparse, even stark, despite the addition of such relatively exotic accompaniment as harp, celeste, clarinet and vibes (from X drummer D.J. Bonebrake). The always impressive Nels Cline is credited with guitars, dobro and "weird sounds." He restrains his typically avant-garde, jazzy excursions to bring unusual tones and textures to the project. Kaulkin applies these instruments with the care and detail-oriented touch of a painter, dabbing them into the recordings to provide color but never letting the few solos steal the spotlight from Mandell's mellifluous voice and sharp lyrics. The words are printed in the booklet which makes it easy to follow along as the singer approaches relationships -- good, bad, stagnating, improving and dissolving -- with a sharp poetic grace fleshed out by the gorgeous music. She finds the nooks and crannies in uncomplicated words, bringing layers of meaning to a deceptively simple lyric such as "Your eyes are the same eyes that you had yesterday, so you know who you once were." Her musings add weight and even intensity to the subtle, muted tunes, making this a perfect addition to her existing catalog and arguably, her finest work yet.

Miracle of Five
Eleni Mandell
By Nick Jennings
(Inside Entertainment Canada
January, 2007)

In time for Valentine's Day, Mandell's latest makes a perfect romantic gift. Better than roses and healthier than chocolate, this torchy collection gathers songs about the aching search for love ("Moonglow, Lamp Low"), the woozy rush of first love ("Make-Out King") and the melancholic longing for love ("Miss Me") into one heartfelt package. The L.A.-based Mandell has recorded fine albums before. But never has she sounded as assured or inspired as she does on this jazz-tinged classic. Tie it up with a big red bow.

 

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