Mandi Strachota has a beautiful voice and a poetic songwriting skill, and on Unleashed, she uses hem to sing about overcoming hardship and pain and learning to be herself. The style is a mix of blues, R’n’B, and soul with strong touches of jazz, gospel, and folk.
This is is an emotional experience. Strachota says, “I wrote all the songs and truly put my own heart and experiences into the whole thing.” That authenticity shines through every song.
There are some dark themes in this collection of songs that really reflect a harrowing time in Strachota’s life. She hits rock bottom in the beautiful “Just Rain,” and like many before her turns that despair into an exquisite ballad that brings to mind Bonnie Raitt, Aretha Franklin or the late Etta James. None of them could have done it better than Strachota herself. This is a timeless song that demands repeat listening. “Cuckoo,” a hypnotic urban ballad, is another song of despair,
But through most of the songs, Strachota also shows growing hope for independence and increasing confidence-confidence. Listen to “Growing Pains” and “Ready To Run.”
Perhaps the song that captures both the pain and the triumph best is “Scream,” with its lurid language that describes her fight for her voice as literally tearing her lips apart and then swells to a triumphant celebration in the end. Other songs that celebrate Strachota’s new freedom are “My Time To Shine” and the delightful, gospel-tinged shuffle,”These Shoes.”
There are 13 songs on Unleashed, and all of them are strong and their own part of Strachota’s journey to set herself free. You will love her beautiful voice and appreciate the chance to share a little of both the darkness and the light Mandi chronicles for us here, knowing she triumphs in the end.
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