Mandisa: Out of the Dark

“Yesterday had me knocked to the ground… and I dropped out of sight… it’s been a while since anybody’s seen me smiling.” Whoa! The album opens with a procession of increasingly alarmed friends leaving messages on Mandisa’s answering machine, expressing their friendship in the midst of her crippling bout of depression and binge eating. This is no “God loves me, so everything is great” Christian album. The song titles (Out of the Dark; I’m Still Here; Unfinished; Comeback Kid; Keep Getting Up) tell the tale, but as with many of King David’s psalms, the lyrics of even the darkest songs end on a positive note. It’s not all introspection, though; Mandisa also tackles contemporary social issues. “Bleed the Same” begins with a spoken word intro by Kirk Franklin before launching into a trio song with Franklin and Toby Mac urging concern for both black lives and blue lives (i.e. policemen). “The One He Speaks Through” urges Christians to see themselves as Christ’s ambassadors. “He might use your words to heal a heart that has been bruised.” Despite the weighty subject matter, Mandisa keeps the music mostly uptempo, from the Chic-via-Mark-Ronson funk of “Good News” to R&B, pop, and gospel stylings. Britt Nicole and Jeremy Camp also lend their vocals to some tracks. The digital-only version adds three more tracks to the fifteen on the CD version, but none of them seem like leftover dregs. This is an album for everyone who knows someone with deep hurts. Which is to say, this is an album for everyone.

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