When Mariel's third album, The Darkest Angel, came out in 1999, the artist that she found herself being compared to more than anyone was Jewel. But the obscure singer/songwriter from Cherry Hill, NJ was pursuing a career in music long before Jewel hit big with "Who Will Save Your Soul" in 1996, so it would be inaccurate to say that Jewel was a major influence on her. Nonetheless, there are some parallels. Like Jewel, Mariel has a sweetly delicate, waifish, gossamer style of singing and writes melodic, introspective pop and pop/rock songs. Jewel, however, is more folk-influenced and shows more of a range -- Mariel's singing is on the thin side, but that doesn't prevent her from being expressive and charming on original songs like "99 Lies," "Weather This Storm," and "Spiteful" as well as ethereal covers of the Velvet Underground's "I'll Be Your Mirror" and Jane's Addiction's "I Would for You." The listener hears traces of Stevie Nicks in some of Mariel's writing, although Nicks' singing is a lot more robust and gritty. One of the musicians backing Mariel on this CD is drummer Bobby Corea, formerly of the Philadelphia dance-pop group Pretty Poison (which had a major hit in the late 1980s with "Catch Me, I'm Falling" on Virgin). Not fantastic but certainly likable, The Darkest Angel makes one hope that Mariel would become less obscure.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson