Eleni Mandell, Daniel Martin Moore | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Eleni Mandell, Daniel Martin Moore Recommended Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Thu., March 26, 9 p.m. 2009

LA singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell has been putting out art-pop records for more than a decade, often changing her stripes from one album to the next, but over them all the shadow of Tom Waits has loomed large—not his cracked voice or flea-market arrangements but rather his dark, moody atmospherics and often oblique lyrics. For her new Artificial Fire (Zedtone), though, Mandell seems to have shaken off his specter—its tight, catchy tunes are more direct and energetic than anything I’ve ever heard from her. In her press materials she claims to have reconnected with her “inner teenager,” but though some of the melodies and settings have a fizzy brightness, her lyrics are still thoroughly adult, grappling with the kind of romantic disappointment that turns eagerness into desperation. (On “Personal” she even manages to make a good tune from a classified ad: “I really love summer / I love to be warm / I love to feel hopeful.”) Many of Mandell’s sharply observed songs turn on bad timing or the idea that the clock can run out on someone’s chances for happiness, but she never sounds too caught up in the emotions she describes—maybe because her music seems to be realizing more of its potential with each passing year, not less. Daniel Martin Moore opens. —Peter Margasak

Price: $12

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