Across a career stretching back to the late '90s, L.A. singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell has acquired comparisons to Tom Waits, X, and Patsy Cline, among many others. But the inspiration for her latest album, Let's Fly a Kite, is her experiences as the single mother of three-year-old twins. Deftly sidestepping potential sentimentality, the album finds Mandell's cleverness and a measure of her noirish cynicism intact, although now largely transformed into insouciant charm thanks to Nick Lowe. Teamed with Lowe's band and favorite producer (Neil Brockbank), Mandell addresses motherhood and babysitters, but also romance and dreams with wry twists set into a musical context that's infectious and timeless. Swing, waltzes, touches of country, slices of pop from virtually any decade going back to the '40s, flourishes of mariachi horns, and trad jazz clarinet all send Mandell soaring into the blue. Vikesh Kapoor opens.
Fri., Feb. 14, 8 p.m., 2014