Drawing heavy influence from Tom Waits, Los Angeles hipster Eleni Mandell initiated a recording career with art-cool albums packed with her gritty, noir-ish sketches. Mandell, who was a huge fan of L.A. punkers X growing up, was raised in the Sherman Oaks region of the San Fernando Valley, and began performing out during her years as a student at Berkeley. Soon after, she fell under the mentorship of Chuck E. Weiss, the Tom Waits hobnobber (and subject of Rickie Lee Jones' "Chuck E's in Love"). In 1998, she self-financed her first release, Wishbone. The album spurred the Waits comparisons as well as comparisons to P.J. Harvey. Her next two albums, Thrill and Snakebite, continued the mode of torchy cool, but 2003's Country for True Lovers saw a shift in Mandell's muse to classic-country tunes. Inspired by such trad-country classics as Tammy Wynette's Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad (1967), Mandell enlisted producer and former X guitarist Tony Gilkyson, whom she had met through Weiss. The effort, recorded in a mere two weeks with a host of L.A.'s top country-rock sessioneers (including former Lone Justice drummer Don Heffington), featured a mix of originals and covers by artists such as Merle Haggard. ~ Erik HagePortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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