BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
There’s likely no situation that’s more out of sync than trying to carry on a career as a musician while also attempting to raise young children. So credit Eleni Mandell with capturing the joys of parenthood through the lens of a prolific singer/songwriter on her new album, Let’s Fly a Kite. Sung like a chanteuse and backed by label mate Nick Lowe’s crack band — Geraint Watkins (keyboards), Matt Radford (bass), Robert Trehern (drums), Martin Winning (wind instruments) – as well as Los Straitjackets’ Greg Townson on guitar and with Lowe’s producer Neil Brockbank behind the boards, it captures an aura of domestic bliss through songs that are unfailingly effervescent and jazz infused to the max.
Mandell makes a convincing crooner, while Winning’s brassy flourishes and Brockbank’s subtle string arrangements create a timeless pop sheen that likens these songs to standards even on initial encounter. The casual saunter of “Put My Baby to Bed” (inspired by a phone conversation with her babysitter, natch), the cool caress of “The Man Who’s Always Lost,” the cheery shuffle that drives “Cool Water,” and the easy, breezy “Maybe Yes” each provide a knowing nod and wink which only affirm her savvy and sophistication. Imagine Doris Day with Nelson Riddle in tow, especially in the coy tone of a song like “Love Never Acted,” which finds Mandell attempting to lure a reticent prospect into giving romance a try. “I like bourbon on ice every now and again / I hoped you’d partake so this friendship could end.” Treading midway between swing and a sway, Mandell makes a convincing case.
DOWNLOAD: “Cool Water,” “Put My Baby to Bed,” “Love Never Acted”