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Cirque Du Soleil
(Cirque Du Soleil)
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Patricia Barber
(Blue Note)
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Cirque Du Soleil
(Cirque Du Soleil)
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Jim Pearce
“Why I Haven't Got You”
Prairie Dog Ballet
(Oak Avenue Publishing)
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Andy Timmons Band
“Gone (9/11/01)”
(Favored Nations)
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Ralph Towner
Time Line
(ECM Records)
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Anoushka Shankar

Amos Lee
"Arms Of A Woman"
Amos Lee
(Blue Note)

Julius Curcio
"American Pie"
Alligator Shoes
(Electric Roots)
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"Come Alive"
Changing Into Me
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Rising Stars [Issue #25]
Eleni Mandell: Miracle Of One
By Lynne Bronstein
miracle of five (CD Zedtone)

There’s a good critical buzz around Eleni Mandell’s new album, Miracle Of Five. Some of that buzz compares her to other female singer-songwriters like Laura Cantrell and Norah Jones. But Eleni Mandell is her own person and her style is rooted in some unique concepts, among them the unusual fact (in today’s high-tech world) that she plays a nylon stringed acoustic guitar.

“I like the sound of a nylon stringed guitar,” says Eleni, on the phone from a tour stop in Seattle, “It’s not loud, but it’s very warm. I mostly play steel string but I found this beautiful 1956 Martin nylon stringed guitar in Arizona a couple of years ago when I was on tour. That was primarily what I was writing on when I wrote this record.”

The songs on Miracle Of Five have a sound that is not only warm, but might also be characterized as old-fashioned. The opening track, “Moonglow, Lamp Low” has a honky-tonk style reminiscent of the 1930s. “I definitely agree that my music is very nostalgic. My whole life is crammed with nostalgia. I wear mostly vintage clothes or I make them. [But] I have no interest in living in a time warp. I really love music from the past but I also love music from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s. I don’t feel that my music is retro or any less contemporary than anybody else’s.”

The album in fact shifts gears quickly, with “My Twin,” a song with lyrics that evoke many recent headlines about disasters: “Why did that train derail / 210 victims were killed / Was my twin among the dead?”

“I wasn’t referring to any disasters specifically,” says Eleni. “Just all the bad news in general. I had read the headlines and was laying in the living room looking out the window and thinking about the possibility of finding true love and wondering if that person would be ‘derailed.’ Not a very cheery thought but it’s one of my favorites on the record.”

While the instrumentation provided by the nylon stringed Martin may be soft and warm, Eleni wanted some stronger accents for her songs. To this end she recruited some musicians known for rock riffs, including X drummer DJ Bonebrake on vibes and electric guitar by Wilco’s Nels Cline. “He’s a good friend of my drummer, Kevin Fitzgerald. The two of them were in a band called the Geraldine Fibbers. I asked Kevin if he felt that Nels might consider working on the record and he said he’d love to do it. I felt very lucky that he happened to be in town and was willing to bring his instruments over and spend time with us. We worked him pretty hard!”

Eleni Mandell grew up in the San Fernando Valley in the Los Angeles area. She studied violin and piano early on, switched to guitar when she was interested in “punk,” and began writing songs. She says she didn’t take the idea of being a musician seriously however, until she met and performed for the legendary Chuck E. Weiss. “I sang a song for him. And he took one look at me and said, ‘You’re going to be a musician.’ And it rang true - and I started on my path.”

Over the years, Eleni Mandell has paid her dues singing in clubs and recording six albums. When asked what she considers to be a “turning point” in her career, she observes that a turning point hasn’t really happened yet. “I have a Canadian label [Zedtone Records] and [the label manager, Ian Pierson] is extremely generous, but it’s not a major label. I don’t know if I’ve reached a turning point. I definitely feel that I’ve been on a slow climb for a really long time and I’m really enjoying every step of the way.”

miracle of five

Miracle Of One Eleni Mandell miracle of five

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