What If We Were Real
Honesty and positive change are the major themes running through Mandisa’s What If We Were Real. As a singer, Mandisa has moved far beyond the diva-in-waiting role she took on for American Idol. Rather than constantly reaching for big notes and powering through her material, she approaches these songs with a nuanced feel for the meaning of each lyric. Many of the album’s best tunes — including “Just Cry,” “The Truth About Me” and the title track — deal with self-acceptance in the light of Christian faith. The power ballad “Say Goodbye” is an especially stirring anthem of inner transformation. Mandisa freshens up her sound with forays into bouncy techno-pop (“Good Morning,” “Free”) and acoustic-accented funk (“Temporary Fills”). She fires on all cylinders for the fervent closing track “Lifeline.” What stands out the most about What If We Were Real is its believability — there’s a genuine sense of struggle and victory here. Mandisa’s personal journey has brought her to a very good place indeed.