Album review: Eleni Mandell's 'I Can See the Future'

Los Angeles singer and songwriter Eleni Mandell sounds totally relaxed and completely in control on her latest, “I Can See the Future” (Yep Roc). She’s had plenty of practice: Although the album is her first for a proper label, it’s the ninth LP overall from a versatile artist with an abundance of good taste.

Mandell switches among singing personae with ease, cooing soft, alluring lyrics over a swirl of strings and vibraphone on the lazily subdued chanteuse-pop tune “Magic Summertime,” and threading her luminous voice through the dusty Southwestern campfire number “Desert Song.” Punchy slide guitar pairs with a low horn and restrained beat to frame her searching vocals on the slinky “Who You Gonna Dance With,” and she duets with Benji Hughes on the sleek, countrypolitan “Never Have to Fall in Love Again.” Perhaps most striking, Mandell finds a dizzying balance between sultry and vulnerable on “Bun in the Oven,” a song based on her decision a few years ago to have a baby with help from an anonymous sperm donor, without giving up hope for a long-term love connection.

The sentiment relates back to the opener, “The Future,” where Mandell describes an idyllic vision of what she wants to come true, accompanied by a low fingerpicked acoustic guitar pattern. She sounds serene and certain when she sighs, “I can see the future,” and though she doesn’t specifically mention the music she’ll be making then, you just know it’ll be something good.

— Eric R. Danton

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