#MusicMonday: Mandisa’s ‘Out of the Dark’ calls you from depressed to blessed

Although this album came out in 2017, Mandisa’s fifth studio album has a strong and timely message for a dark and divided world. After suffering from a deep depression following the death of friend and background singer Lakisha Mitchell who lost a long battle with breast cancer who decided to carry her unborn child instead of treat her cancer with aggressive chemo therapy. This album was born from all that pain and heartache.  Out of The Dark is filled with songs of hope, resilience, & reminders that God is still working, no matter the circumstance.

Song by Song Review

Voicemail Intro: A track showing backstory to the album that a dark trial or tribulation had just occurred and Mandisa’s friends were calling to encourage her and check on her.

I’m Still Here: My favorite song on the entire album for the message of still having unfinished work to do in and through me by God. This track was co-written with Matthew West.

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Out of The Dark: A song about how God’s grace brings light seeping into the broken messes in our lives and begins to heal us.

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Unfinished: The message of Unfinished is that even with all my mistakes, God is not done making me into a masterpiece; that he’s still working on me.

Bleed The Same (Intro): This track features pastor and renowned singer in his own right Kirk. He speaks about the injustices and the inequalities facing the world today followed by the song of the same name.

Bleed The Same: (ft. Toby Mac)

My second favorite song on this album because it is a beautiful way to shine God’s love and light into our divisive and hurting world, so we should come together and be peaceable with one another.

Comeback Kid:

A song about having the propensity to come back no matter the difficulty or hardship we faced.

What You’re Worth: (ft. Britt Nicole)

A song written in honor of survivors of human trafficking. It is ultimately an anthem for women to not let your worth be tied to your body.

Dear John Praise Report:

A quick into to the next track (Good News) sharing that Mandisa’s brother became a born-again Christian.

Good News:

Co-written with Matthew West, a pop and dancy praise song about the good news of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and personal moments of glory in our every day life.

Prove Me Wrong:

A song about the moments when something happens that devastates us & makes us question God’s love and faithfulness. This song was written in memory of Mandisa’s friend and back-up singer Lakisha Mitchell.

Mothdisa:

A spoken story about Mandisa’s revelation about Jesus.

The One He Speaks Through:

A song about being God’s hands & feet.

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Shine:

A catchy reminder that we weren’t called to be small or dim the light within us but we were called to be a bright light burning bright shining for Jesus.

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My First Love (ft. Jeremy Camp):

A song based on Jeremiah 31:3

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

Jesus is and always longs to be our first love.

 

Overall, this album has been on repeat for a while and every time one of these songs comes on shuffle, I smile because I am reminded that because of God’s grace, I will always have good news.

 

#MusicReview: Martin’s In The Blink of A Life brings something new to the table.

Growing up, I was drawn to the song “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. I didn’t know why then (now I’m aware that her vocals on that piece were raw, honest, and carried you on an emotional journey despite the track being less than two minutes in length), my dad and I would just bond over how much that song spoke to us.

In much the same way, April Martin’s music speaks in a similar way: her vocals carry you on an emotional journey of where her heart has been, and her music reminds all who listen to it of greats like Loretta Lynn, Rosanne Cash, and Gillian Welch.

Click the image below to hear In The Blink of Life in it’s entirety.

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April Martin started her professional life as a Ph.D. in clinical
psychology and maintains a successful practice in New York City. Though
she made up songs in her head from as far back as she can remember, she
didn’t begin writing them down until later in life.

Her first album, Pennies in a Jar, was released in 2010, and garnered
more than 10,000 fans worldwide on Internet radio. This album, In the
Blink of a Life, takes her exploration of the human heart – which is
done with tenderness, humor, and passion, to greater depths of
reflection and maturity.

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On her work on this album and as a musician as a whole, April explains:

“When I was a child in the 1950’s you could
get a song sheet for 5 cents at the corner candy store with the lyrics
to tunes on the Hit Parade. My dad, whose natural tenor voice was always
bursting into song,  would give me a nickel each week when the new ones
came out. Together we learned songs like “Secret Love”,  “How Much Is
That Doggie in the Window?”, and “Oh My Pa-Pa.” These were some of the
happiest moments of my childhood.

Those songs were my constant companions. I overheard my first grade
teacher complaining, “If that child doesn’t stop humming I will go
crazy.” I hummed the tunes and memorized the words, which spoke life’s
truths to my little heart. I knew for a fact that love is a many
splendored thing, that Davey Crockett was king of the wild frontier, and
that when you load sixteen tons all you get is another day older and
deeper in debt. My musical tastes may have broadened, but to this day
I’m drawn to the simplicity of a song that makes me laugh or cry or
wonder about something that rings deeply true.

Songwriting came to me half a lifetime later, after spending decades
immersed in the human condition as a psychologist and a parent of three
children. To my surprise I found myself humming tunes I’d never heard
before and giving voice to things that welled up in me.

With every song I write I’m grateful to the people who trust me with
their vulnerabilities and joys, to my children who made me understand
love as never before, and to my dad who brought those wonderful songs
into my young world.”april-martin-cityscape-no-2

Song By Song review:

One Breath: This song speaks volumes about something we all forget and we need a major reminder of in today’s world. We only have now. We must take life one breath at a time. Favorite line “It’s all about now, the why, and the how. It’s all about love.”

Heart Break Doesn’t Come: My favorite song off the album solely because of it’s musicality about all hell breaking lose but the speaker saying blatantly “heart break doesn’t come from loving me.” The guitar breakdown adds a nice musicality to the track.

My Rock and My Rain: This song boasts lyrics that are practically songwriter perfection. A perfect to dedicate to your upcoming valentine.

While I’m Waiting: This song could have stayed an instrumental for it’s suspenseful musicality through the use of a rain-stick and various other percussion instruments.

Looking Back: Perfect song to play at someone’s memorial, it’s a perfect combination of soft music, lyrics that are tears of memory, and soft vocals.

Everday I Love You More: A beautiful love song with nice percussive musicality

Would You Let Me In: The flute adds a great musicality to this song about falling in love with someone who is grieving.

Sara’s Lullaby: Taking on the sound of Spanish folk music, this is a both a pleasure to listen to and a little bit of a style change for the artist.

All I’ve Got: Vocally, Martin reminds me of Karen Carpenter a little bit on this track folky love song.

One Part Truth, The Party’s In Full Swing, Life is Good, and Praise The Morning all boast of Martin’s country style as a singer-songwriter, both lyrically and musically.

In The Blink of A Life

April Martin

Rating: Four out of five cookies

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#NineTrackMind: @CharliePuth wows way before debut album

Hailing from Rumson, New Jersey and at only 24 years old, Charlie Puth first caught our attention as the lead vocalist who croons the chorus of Wiz Kahlifa’s award winning song “See You Again” for Fast and Furious 7.

At the young age of two, Puth suffered a near fatal dog bite incident that damaged his right eyebrow. At age 12, he began his music career unofficially by participating in a jazz ensemble in Red Bank, NJ. Despite attending regular high school, from 7th to 12th grade, he attended Manhattan School of Music pre-college, majoring in jazz piano and minoring in classical music. From here, he went to college on a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music where he majored in music production and engineering. He graduated in 2013.

His music career sprung into action when Puth began a Youtube channel called Charlies Vlogs, where he released his first single, “These Are My Sexy Shades” in 2010. Charlie Puth was originally signed to Ellen Degenerees label, eleveneleven but left in 2013. In 2015, he signed with Atlantic Records. Prior to the release of his debut album, Nine Track Mind, he was a feature act on the 2015 Jingle Ball Tour.

Song by Song Review

“One Call Away”: A song he wrote with his best friends in L.A. it showcases Puth’s songwriting style as well his signature musical style of pure vocals across a piano track.

“Marvin Gaye”: The debut single off his album released with Atlantic Records, the track is all about the heat of passion between two people who just met, and features Puth’s friend and fellow pop artist, Meghan Trainor.

    “Dangerously”: One of my favorites off the album, I relate to the message of the song and love the musicality of the track because it’s got a soul pop vibe. Puth himself tweeted that the part of the song where he sings, “knew we would crash at the speed that we were going” part took about 100 times to get right. You can’t even tell, Charlie. Either way, your voice sounds as smooth as spoonful of brownie cheesecake ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s.

“Losing My Mind”: I feel like this track should be my text notification since I am probably losing my mind 21 out of 24 hours a day. Puth explains the song as a track on an emotional day when he felt like he was the worst songwriter in the world and that he was losing his mind. Sounds like he fixed his writer’s block with this song.

      “We Don’t Talk Anymore”: A great song that I can dedicate to my ex since things there ended entirely terribly. This is my favorite track on the album because I love the back and forth between Selena Gomez and him on this track as well as the overall musicality of the track.

“My Gospel”: Love the musicality of this track as well as the overall message of the song. Now if only I could get a guy who looks like Charlie Puth to sing this to me because he dedicates it to me. This song was co-written by Josh Kear, most known for writing the hit Carrie Underwood song “Before He Cheats.”

    “Up All Night”: Puth’s vocals and jazz piano backtrack make this sound a lot like the sequel to “One Call Away.” He wrote this while doing head stands according to Puth’s Twitter page. This track is incredibly relatable for anyone who’s ever had a crush. Bravo, Charlie.

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    “Left Right Left”: Another piano ballad that talks about that moment when time has past and you finally start picking yourself up and moving on with your life after a breakup that you thought would destroy you for good. Ironically, Puth recorded this song on a hover board and he fell really hard during the recording session.

“Then There’s You”: Max Martin added his own personal touch to this track but this has the makings of being as popular as Bieber’s “One Less Lonely Girl” if it becomes a single. If not, I enjoy the pop musicality of the track and only hope I can get married one day to this song.

“Suffer”: This track reminds me of a Temptations song, and makes me feel as though I’ve transported back to the fifties with it’s malt milkshake diner vibe but Puth wrote this about a girl that was messing with his mind.

“As You Are”: Ok so I stand corrected. This is my absolute favorite track on the album. This track was co-written by Shy Carter Mayne. Also, Charlie if you ever want to have a shotgun wedding to someone you don’t really know, I’m only one call away 😉

“Some Type of Love”: The song that helped him get a record deal with Atlantic Records, this was written and recorded in his parent’s house. The perfect song to listen to on Valentine’s Day.

So far, Nine Track Mind has debuted at #6 on the Billboard Hot 200. Puth may be one call away but he’s definitely a someone you should watch out for. His music will have you losing your mind because it’s just that good.