Reviewed by Alastair McCollum
Mandisa has made headlines in the US recently, as much for her 100 pound weight loss as the release of her third album, which came out on April 5th - exactly five years to the day after she was, surprisingly, voted off American Idol. Her struggles with her weight and feelings of inadequacy have informed much of her music as she presents eleven songs of soul-filled power pop which ring with honesty, redemption, joy and pain. This collection of songs is at least as good if not better than most of what you might hear in the charts, with excellent production from various talents including Chris Stevens (Carrie Underwood, TobyMac), Dan Muckala (Amy Grant, Brandon Heath) and Chance Scoggins (Natalie Grant). Of course, all of this talent is taken into the stratosphere by Mandisa's Voice which is not just powerful, but versatile and capable of a huge range of expression. The opening track "Stronger" - which is also the first single from this selection - is a powerful, pumped up, vibrant and hopeful piece which sings of Mandisa's freedom and life. The moving ballad "Just Cry" is soulful and beautiful. The title track asks, with a poppy, heavy-bassed backing, what the effect would be if only we as God's people were honest with each other. Another highlight is "Good Morning" which is a disco-infused dance number with a rap from TobyMac, guaranteed to have you up out of your seat and jumping around! All these songs are born out of experience, sung with passion and power and there's not a bad track on the album, uplifting, moving and hopeful.
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Mandisa continues to be a voice of encouragement and truth to women facing life’s challenges. She returns with her new album What If We Were Real. Featuring the new single Stronger, the album’s theme centres around the masks that each of us wear every day.
Mandisa shares that her new record is “all about taking the masks off, and really letting the world see that as Christians it doesn’t mean we don’t go through difficult times and doesn’t mean that things are always great in our lives. It simply means we have a relationship with the Saviour who is able to bring us joy and peace in the middle of our difficult times”.