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Eleni Mandell @ the Echo, 2/8

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Eleni Mandell, with her sixth full length release, Miracle of Five, hit up the Echo for the KCRW release party last night. The packed and almost giddy crowd filled with literally all walks of life (think middle aged baldies, a trannie, and the usual hipsters) were swaying along to EM’s hushed, moody, jazzy folk. Is jazzy folk even a thing? If it isn’t Mandell has made it one. Highlight of the evening? The Echo was decorated like a middle school Valentine’s Day dance, complete with cupcake refreshments and a photo booth. Mandell herself was dressed in a pink sixties style prom dress, which looked surprisingly good against her acoustic guitar.

A Los Angeles native, Mandell has been touring for years, recording six albums and making friends and a following along the way. Mandell was listed in Bust Magazine as “on the pedestal of Indie Godesses” and has been compared to the likes of Norah Jones, though I couldn’t disagree more. Eleni Mandell has a more edgy side -- naughty if you will. She’s more like a Margo Timmons (of the Cowboy Junkies) or a Tom Waits-infused PJ Harvey, with her sultry voice and tongue in check attitude. Throughout her sets, her smirks give off the impression that she knows a secret that if you listen close enough, will eventually be revealed. Her band, which includes Ryan Feues on the upright base and Kevin Fitzgerald on drums, are more than competent, and played the fun game of dress-up too.

The songs on Miracle, sound warm and cozy like a jazzy campfire melody, with a full band to back it up. They sounded the same in the Echo, which made me start jonesing for some s’mores. Mandell’s strength is the command she has on the crowd, mesmerizing, soulful and warm, her music and persona are aligned, and instead of being a shy and humble little thing of a singer songwriter, she is a confident and commanding presence, even if her songs are gentle.

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Good thing Miracle came out now -- just in time for some sweet Valentine's Day action.

Photo by Corey Podell for LAist