BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
With a dozen albums and more than 20 years spent pursuing her career, one would think that Eleni Mandell would be better situated in the public consciousness by now. Certainly, though, it’s not through lack of trying. Nor does that failing have anything to do with her inability to move in the right circles. Her past associations have included X guitarist Tony Gilkyson, Wilco’s Nels Cline, Berlin’s Steve Berlin, noted drummer Lenny Waronker, and chanteuse Inara George with whom she partnered in the short-lived indie supergroup The Living Sisters. Mentored by Chuck E. Weiss, Rickie Lee Jones’s legendary muse, Mandell makes music that’s occasionally insurgent, but not so far from the mainstream to be considered anything other than engaging.
Wake Up Again offers further proof of that point, its title suggesting it’s the public, and not the artist, that needs to take a second look. Its songs are entrenched in a solid folk-like firmament, with some, such as “Circumstances,” “Be Yourself,” “Ghost of a Girl” and “Wake Up Again,” infused in that delicate more than others. To be sure, there are a couple of assertive pronouncements — “Box in a Box” and “What’s Your Handle (Radio Waves)” being the most prominent, but overall these are songs of wistful reflection and quiet contemplation. It’s a set of songs that’s sweetly sugar coated throughout, its pleasantry apparently part of its purpose.
If the title holds deeper meaning, it might be interpreted as Mandell’s desire to maintain a sort of cerebral dream state, one where life is celebrated from a nocturnal perspective, shielded from the otherwise unpleasant intrusions of the world around us. Obviously, that’s not realistic, but here, in a bubble of serenity and serendipity, we’re given opportunity to imagine what such a blissful existence might actually be like.
DOWNLOAD: “Circumstances,” “Be Yourself,” “Ghost of a Girl”