Avery Mandeville is a songwriter and performer from New Jersey. Her debut EP, Salty, was released in early 2017, followed by LP Happy Birthday, Avery Jane in July 2018. Her unique vocal style has been compared to Roy Orbison, Angel Olsen, silk taffeta, a river of bourbon, and a car backing out of a gravel driveway. Her music is of personal and political concern, with a penchant for brutal honesty, imagery, profanity, and the taboo. In 2011, the ‘Boss’ Bruce Springsteen, gave Mandeville $20 while she busked with friends on the sidewalk. She has been nominated for multiple Asbury Music Awards in 2016 and 2017 and named one of eight New Jersey musicians you need to know in 2018 by another publication. While this is the first time The Aquarian has had a chance to review anything by this New Jersey artist, we are anxious to hear what she has to say.
Her backing band is known as the Man Devils, and they are represented by Matt “Fern” Fernicola, bassist Chris DuBrow, as well as Owen Amato on drums. Avery Mandeville has her own distinct sound and as we go through some her latest music I hope to enlighten you as far as what you can expect when you see her live or listen to the music. So, without further ado, let’s get into Happy Birthday, Avery Jane and see what it’s all about.
The first song up on the disc is called “Get Real”, and she has a hit song right off the bat. Blending dirty guitar riffs, bass, and drums, Mandeville, chimes into the mix with her toned and tuneful vocal sound immediately. The first thing I notice is her ability to create balanced compositions with an original flair. I love the way the intro kicks into the verse and Avery pushes the theme immediately. The verse kicks into a short bridge before heading into an incredibly catchy chorus that showcases her great vocal before she leads into a pseudo-rap portion that melds perfectly into a bridge before she takes us back into the addictive chorus. The middle-eight features Avery moving to a monotone vocal over chugging guitars as she takes the song back into the chorus and the end. A very robust first song for a record and one that is sure to get her more notice in the musical community.
“Facebook” is up next. Mandeville mixes her sultry vocal approach with guitars, bass, and drums as she waxes poetic on love gone wrong and the one who doesn’t measure up. I’m fascinated by her style as she warbles and harmonizes with herself as only she can do. She sounds like no one on the scene, and it’s a pleasant and refreshing change from most of what I hear. Guitar work here is paramount and should be credited with racing alongside Mandeville and her original attack. Jagged chords and phrasing run alongside Avery and compliment her like clockwork. There’s a lot of vocal crosstalk (on purpose) in the background, and it flies across the piece as Avery sings her lament on love and life. I love the way she delivers her lyrical content in a context that makes sense, and the band compliments her vocals perfectly. Another great song that I can’t wait to hear live as well.
Moving around on the disc, I came to a song called “Alexander”. Driven by acoustic guitar, Mandeville warbles and emotes her vocal magic over the top. I believe the subject matter has to do with a friend down on their luck. Avery’s power of description is excellent here as she takes the listener down and into the subjects of her mind. Backing instrumentation rises now and compliments the guitar and vocal just as I would do it. Downtrodden and weary, Avery kicks your imagination into gear and leaves you pondering the words in yet another terrific song.
Another outstanding song is called “The Woods”. Utilizing a spooky shuffle and a Fernicola fueled super mojo guitar run, Avery calms the soul as she tells us we’ll never kill what’s inside. Pianos blend with guitars, bass, and drums to deliver a pristine delivery of amazing alternative-based sound. This song also has some of the best lead guitars on the disc. If you like blues-based riffs and lead breaks that break the mold and jump right in your face, you’re going to love this song. Avery’s vocal attack is a unique blend of smoky, quivering goodness with a splash of sultry mystery and backwater voodoo. Hypnotizing and addictive, “The Woods” leaves you deep in the mysterious forest of Avery’s mind.
“Predator” is next on my viewfinder. This is a perfect example of great compositional talent. Lyrically dark in nature, “Predator” blends guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards to create a sonic soundscape behind Avery’s exotic vocal sounds. This is an actual composition piece, stacking lush sound on top of premeditated ideas and lyrical foreboding to create a huge musical movement. Mandeville has great writing talent and uses it to come up with a song that makes you think as it lulls your musical mind with a cornucopia of sounds. Probably the most complex song on the disc, “Predator” hits on all eight cylinders.
One last song that I wanted to mention is “Encore”. Acoustic guitars ring as Avery shudders through her delivery. Her trademark warble is back, and it works as guest cellist Jen Fantaccione from River City Extension spreads the love over the track. Jen is a talented player, and she adds tons of emotion to this sweet and inspiring song about the ode to the encore. While Mandeville takes a tongue in cheek approach to the subject, she understands the music business and the outlook of that adulation for the last song of the night. I love the lyrics that talk about her getting ready for the show and writing songs that people will probably never hear. The chorus is hooky, and I love the “Texting in the left lane” line. I also appreciate the line where she says, “If the people think it’s my fault, then maybe it’s my fault.” The chorus also has a 1950s vibe to it. It might be because of the chord progression and the melody but I love it, and it works like gangbusters. This is a beautiful song that addresses an age-old subject in the music business and done in a smart and savvy way. I loved this song a lot.
Happy Birthday, Avery Jane has a total of nine songs and is out on Telegraph Hill Records and is available at all online sites as well as on her website. If you get a chance, purchase this latest record and see her live. You will thank me in the future. Avery Mandeville will be at The Working Artist in Belmar on October 11 along with Jake McKelvie, Brook Pridemore, and Program.
For more information on Avery Mandeville and Happy Birthday, Avery Jane, head over to averymandevillemusic.com to get more details.