That's not to say this is a stripped-down, acoustic-guitar affair. Mandell's husky voice booms over an impressive array of backdrops, including a symphonic pairing of viola and marimba, a snarling rockabilly merger of upright bass and electric guitar, and a festive mix of accordion and salsa-style horns. With an impressive range and ability to convey personality through her voice, Mandell steps into a wide variety of roles. In one song she's a self-assured seductress, claiming in a bluesy, slow-crawling coo, He thinks he's in love with this girl/... He's in love with me. Later, she's a former nice girl, chanting, I won't be good any more, with rhythmic conviction; a sultry sexpot whispering, Action is action/Don't you want to get some; and an intimidating growler whose references to taking you out refer to a night on the town but could easily be interpreted as an assassination assignment. Each character is independent, confident, and unafraid to pursue what she wants -- they're all perfect parts for Mandell, who has toured the country solo to promote her self-released record.
Thrill proves that Wishbone's excellence emerged from Mandell's vision and that Brion's knob-turning prowess was the polish on an already sparkling gem, not the extraction of a diamond from the rough. Some lucky label will inevitably snatch her up, as even the most commercially oriented corporate behemoths like to have a few token critical darlings on their rosters. Thrill makes another strong argument on Mandell's behalf.