From American Idol to now, for Mandisa it seems like so much has changed. From her amazing process of weight loss to her musical style, things have changed, but not her heart intentions and why she continues to sing. From her first two beginning albums, "True Beauty" and "Freedom", and somewhat with her third release, "What If We Were Real", the music of "Overcomer" heads in a different direction. It’s upbeat, energized, yet fuels a message of hope to those who are down.
“Whatever you may be going through/I know He’s not gonna let it get the best of you” rings out the title track and first single off the project. This is only the beginning of the proclamation that ripples throughout "Overcomer". Mandisa continues this message with "Press On", singing, “I will follow/I will press on/Even when the walk feels long/Your hands hold me together/Your love is with me forever… One step in front of the other/No looking back/No looking back.”
Mixing with the theme of overcoming is thankfulness for the blessing of being able to overcome, with songs like, "Back to You" (You took my heart so black and blue/And piece by piece You make it new/The only thing left to do is give it all back to You); the pulsating dance track "Joy Unspeakable" (With joy unspeakable let’s get on our feet/Moving to the beat/Wave our hands high in the air/Celebrate His love/Grace that is enough…with joy unspeakable); and the track "At All Times" that recalls a style of early CCM, yet flares of black gospel (At all times/All times/I will bless the Lord at all times).
Then there’s the more poignant side of "Overcomer" with songs "What Scars Are For" (They remind me of Your faithfulness/And all You’ve brought me through/They teach me that my brokenness is something that You can use), "Dear John" (There’s freedom on the other side of/Things that keep us tied up and afraid/There’s hope in every situation/No matter what you’re facing everyday/But it’s up to you/You get to choose/The Father is waiting there with open arms), and "Praying for You", which is a song directed towards her future spouse, (Baby I know that you’ll be the one who’s strong when I am weak/I’ll love you through the good and the bad/For rich or for poor/May not have much/But this I’m sure/’Til my dream comes true/I’ll be praying for you).
The only point that might be more negative directed towards the project is that it feels almost as if it’s hit a plateau. While not like previous albums artistically, at points the album doesn’t feel as if it’s been taken to the next level. Throughout the project, there are those tracks that make you want to turn up the bass and then it turns to songs that may hit close to the heart. All of these songs, of course, have been written from Mandisa’s own personal journey of life reflecting how she continues on and issues that encouragement to the listener, which impacts the heart of the listener much more. "Overcomer" speaks a message of truth that all need to hear today in any circumstance.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Label: Sparrow Records
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Buy it: Amazon - iTunes
1. Overcomer 3:43
2. Back To You 3:36
3. The Distance 3:33
4. Face 2 Face 3:54
5. Press On 3:21
6. What Scars Are For 3:25
7. Dear John 3:50
8. At All Times 4:00
9. Joy Unspeakable 3:38
10. Praying For You 3:34
11. Where You Begin 4:00
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The room was dark and shadowed, the only sound within its walls the rhythmic whoosh of the ventilator beside my son’s bed. I sat on an uncomfortable chair jammed into one corner of the room. In the faint light that fell from the window across the pages of the Bible I held, I tried to corral my stampeding fears long enough to find some comfort from God’s Word. Outside the door of his room, a cacophony of voices from the nurses’ station jarred our shattered nerves.