Country for True Lovers

With three albums to her credit, Los Angeles chanteuse Eleni Mandell temporarily abandons Weill-style neo-noir for a poised move into country.

With three albums to her credit, Los Angeles chanteuse Eleni Mandell temporarily abandons Weill-style neo-noir for a poised move into country. Mandell's slow-burning, provocative style works well on a genre-aware set of originals and interpretations of tunes penned by Merle Haggard and Hank Cochran. The collection isn't 100% country. Witness collection highlight, a cover of Irma Thomas' R&B number "It's Raining." But it's twang-flecked tracks like "Another Lonely Heart," "Refrain," and "Tell Me Twice," sung with an absence of ironic cornpone, that form the core of the set. Crisply produced by former X/ Lone Justice guitarist Tony Gilkyson, currently a leading country-rock light in Los Angeles, Country for True Lovers should handily broaden Mandell's appeal and audience. Distributed by Bayside.—CM