The high-profile, hit television show American Idol has launched the careers of several popular vocalists in the past few years, including Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and Clay Aiken. Mandisa, a former finalist on Idol, will no doubt have her own success story to share one day as well. But what sets this talented vocalist apart from many of her predecessors is her decision to release an overtly Christian record, on a Christian label no less. But make no mistake, Mandisa's powerful pipes and well-produced debut album could have her ready to once again take on the world at large.
True Beauty gets off on the right note with Mandisa's new hit single "Only the World." Full of optimism and joy, this singer refuses to let anything superficial bring her down. Her positive energy continues to flow through True Beauty's eleven songs. The title track has a similar vibe to the opening tune with its bouncy rhythm and R&B pop flair. Mandisa even revisits her version of MaryMary's charismatic "Shackles (Praise You)" (for those of you who may have missed it, Mandisa performed this song live on Idol). "Love Somebody" has the funkiest groove found here, featuring tobyMac chiming in with his signature rap/spoken word style. Even though much of True Beauty is fun and upbeat, Mandisa utilizes several stunning ballads to capture her spine-chilling vocals. The show stopping "Voice of a Savior" exhibits the potential to become a heavy-hitter on Christian radio. Other gorgeous ballads such as "God Speaking" and "Only You" are just as powerful as "Voice of a Savior" and nicely complete True Beauty.
This album is undeniably a strong debut disc. Nevertheless, it still leaves many opportunities for this budding young artist to grow into a seasoned, well-rounded performer. While all of the songs from True Beauty are smoothly produced and nicely crafted, many of them seem to fit into the comfortable "Christian pop" mold, occasionally being anything but original. Alongside that, some of the lyrics and themes of True Beauty seem somewhat redundant, bringing to mind the work countless other artists who also fall into the Christian pop/adult contemporary category.
American Idol was merely the beginning of Mandisa's career. As she continues to grow and search out her own musical path, Mandisa will quickly be on her way to being one of the industry's leading ladies. But until then, True Beauty will likely satisfy the ears of most listeners.- Review date: 7/28/07, written by Lauren Summerford
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