Eleni Mandell

Afternoon

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With Afternoon, L.A.-based jazz-pop chanteuse Eleni Mandell builds a soulful, seductive album around sparse accompaniment and straightforward song compositions. Her smoky voice attests to her spirit on "Can't You See I'm Soulful," in which she confronts a lover who treats her badly, as if she's "easy." "Treat me like I'm heavy," she insists, and Mandell does get heavy lyrically, like when she falls for the character in "American Boy." As she intones "Hands will come together, gloveless," it's equal parts sensuality and subtle sexuality. Ditto for the upbeat title cut, which finds her eager to assume the role of mistress, and although the retro-feeling tune is remarkably delivered, it gets bested by "Easy On Your Way Out." Here, the singer/songwriter gives her strongest vocal performance, as she passionately croons of a fair-weather boyfriend. Assisted by producer/multi-instrumentalist Joshua Grange, bassist Ryan Fees, and drummer Kevin Fitzgerald, Eleni Mandell goes deep into her heart on Afternoon, and it's a warm and elegant experience.

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