Mandy Harvey – Paper Cuts

Mandy Harvey Music

Release Date: January 28th 2022

Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre

Mandy HarveyPaper Cuts (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Masterpiece
  2. Bought Myself Roses
  3. Light
  4. Kismet
  5. Carousel
  6. On the Line
  7. Hold on Me
  8. Something I Can Feel
  9. Lucky
  10. Ritual
  11. Her
  12. Slow Motion

Mandy Harvey would have to be one of the world’s most impactful musicians of late. We as a site did a blog post about her, that can be read here, but in a nutshell, Mandy lost her hearing when she was 18, and since that unfortunate time, she’s been pursuing music and learning to ‘hear’ while being deaf. Through the use of vibrations, and visual tuners, Mandy’s been able to create a world where she can ‘hear’, creating music that is heartfelt, compelling, and most definitely God-inspired. Mandy’s recent interview tells a chilling and impactful account of Mandy’s own hearing loss journey, and through it, I’m sure people (myself included) would gain some perspective to see that our own problems don’t necessarily compare. Mandy already had a hearing loss condition, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, where her hearing loss was a result of a disorder in the connective tissues in her ear, but how she lost her hearing fully was an accident with a bicycle- even though the cyclist called for her to move out of the way, she couldn’t even hear him anyway. As a result, Mandy’s spent more than 10 years being deaf, and yet, 4 albums later, Mandy’s ability to ‘hear’ without even hearing is now becoming an inspiration, especially after her stint on America’s Got Talent. Her 2019 album Nice to Meet You by far is one of the most out-of-the-box releases of that particular year, and songs like ‘This Time’, ‘Try’ and ‘Release Me’ are some of the songs that have become anthems for many people who have observed Mandy’s musical journey since her America’s Got Talent auditions onward. Now in 2022, Mandy’s ability to create music has extended to her creating a new album on kickstarter– with Paper Cuts being released in January 2022 (and comprising of already standout singles like ‘Masterpiece’ and ‘Bought Myself Roses’), Mandy nevertheless funded her album through public support and help, and what has resulted is this- 12 songs of pure genius, as this album fast becomes one of the most emotive and poignant of all of 2022 thus far.

With both ‘Masterpiece’ and ‘Bought Myself Roses’ being released prior to the 12 track album release date, both these songs showcase the backbone of the album, both in a lyrical and thematic sense. The first single from the album, ‘Masterpiece’ reminds people of the masterpiece of a person that they really are (not who they believe they ought to be), as we are given hope and encouragement in how most often than not, it’s our broken pieces that we can often dismiss the most, that can really become the healing parts of not only our own journeys, but other peoples experiences and realisations as well. ‘Masterpiece’ is a reminder that we, as imperfect, broken, and difficult people as we are, are seen by the maker of the world as masterpieces, that we come to God as we are, not as we think we ought to be…and then He does a work in us from the inside out. We come as broken people, and we may still leave broken, but at then end of it all, hopefully we’ll have an experience that changes our hearts to become more empathetic to people around us, allow us to extend more compassion and grace to people who are of a plight similar (or even different) to ours. ‘Bought Myself Roses’ similarly expounds on our own beliefs that we are masterpieces in the sight of God our Father; and extends this understanding to this issue of mental health as well. For it’s one thing for God our Father to declare Biblical truths over ourselves, but it’s another that we actually believe them. The mind can be a powerful tool that either is used for building us up; or tearing us all down. ‘Bought Myself Roses’ is a way of trying to check in- with yourself and the people around you as well. As Mandy herself puts it, ‘…‘Bought Myself Roses’ is about mental health awareness and I’ve personally been making a point to stop, take a breath, and check in – not just with those around me but with myself too. This past year has put such a strain on everyone, and I know I am not alone in feeling a little lost and overwhelmed. This song is a dedication to taking care of myself, going outside, exploring new passions, and finding ways to appreciate this beautiful world we live in. My hope for this song is that it encourages people to take time to focus within…’

Throughout the rest of the album, we see Mandy continue to defy odds and deliver powerful music in spite of her disability. A great reminder of how God can turn around something horrific and use it for His glory, Mandy’s album is continually full of hopeful and reflective melodies that allow us to ponder the musings of life and really wonder ‘what if’, especially during a time where mental (and spiritual) health needs to be prioritised more than we actually do. ‘Light’ enters in at track #3 and speaks of this understanding of what ‘light’ really means and what it does for us and for others when we’re ‘exposed’ and living freely in the light. For when we come into the light from the darkness, what we should and ought to feel is a sense of freedom, because we’re not hiding from people for so long. To be free is to be ourselves (however we think ‘ourselves’ really mean); and knowing full well that we are loved unconditionally regardless. The devil loves us to keep hiding in the dark, because the more we are in such a crippling place, the more he sows seeds of shame and guilt, and the more we believe we aren’t loved by God at all. Mandy encourages us in ‘Light’, to be reminded that ‘…even though I’m breakin’, in the light, I wanna be real, I wanna feel, wanna feel, in the light…’ As we’re out in the open, we can hopefully understand that being in the light isn’t a bad thing- for God’s light and love brings Satan’s darkness to his knees, and we are on for the ride, hopefully allowing His light to transform us from the inside out as we become not consumed by shame, but by speaking up and boldly about God’s light to others we meet.

‘Kismet’ is a funny term and definition- it speaks of it being linked to either fate or destiny, and I begin to wonder. Are we really putting life down to this one word ‘kismet’ or are we really saying (without saying it) that it is really God’s providence over someone’s life (as well as Him being active in our lives throughout the day-to-day mundaneness of life), where things happen and only one thing explains it to be- God? Mandy relays in the song, that if she were to live life again, then she’d do exactly the same things as before, because it’d lead all back to the overarching ‘you’ (either talking about a relationship, or God Himself). But will we? If given the chance for a do-over, would we drastically change things, believing there is no ‘fate’ or ‘kismet’, or would we believe we’ll end up where God wants us to end up anyway, and change things regardless? Whatever the case, this song really dives into the rabbit hole of ‘predestination’ v. ‘free will’, and if both exist, one, or even none (gasp!), and Mandy tries to tackle this song with much humility and grace.

‘Carousel’ speaks of this notion of settling down with someone and being ok to jump off the carousel of moving at the speed of life, and being at peace and content with someone who allows you to relax and be who you are, however messy and unco-ordinated that may look like (and for you to be loved in spite of all your imperfections and quirkiness; while ‘On the Line’ speaks of a toxic relationship and how the persona in it feels conflicted and torn. When you’re in a relationship that is unfortunate toxic for whatever reason, you tend to rationalise and justify the other person. You walk the line between fighting for yourself and realising that you shouldn’t stay in such a situation anymore, to ‘committing’ to said person because you’re told it’s ‘the right and godly thing to do’. ‘Hold On Me’ reminds us all, that we all have value and worth, that we don’t have to feel as though we have to hold on and internalise what we believe and think about certain situations and circumstances on the basis that we don’t believe what we have to offer and contribute is ‘good enough’; while ‘Something I Can Feel’ reminds me thematically of Dami Im’s ‘Crying Underwater’, where the persona feels trapped within all their feelings, and longs to break out of their difficult life, to latch onto ‘something’, because feeling something is far better than being numb and feeling nothing at all. The poignant music video accompaniment speaks volumes, as we see clouds and rain over Mandy as she sings, but throughout the video the shot pans out to see clouds and rain above other people too, a reminder that we are not alone in this difficult season we may find ourselves in.

‘Lucky’, according to Mandy herself, ‘…is about pushing beyond the barriers, being your own advocate and finding that internal voice [God] to dig deeper when every sign tells you to give up. Luck isn’t always accessible so sometimes you create your own steam and your own luck…’, and reminds us all, of the perseverance and determination we all must possess in this hard and difficult life we may often lead, while songs like ‘Ritual’ and ‘Her’ speak about topics and themes that can often seem difficult to hear. ‘Ritual’ reminds us all, that time keeps slipping away from us, that its momentary, and thus, we need to treat each conversation and connection with as much purpose and intentionality as possible. Like a ritual or a habit, when we ‘think’ of the person (or for lack of a better blunt term, pray), it needs to be real, not just a passing comment and then we forget about them later. If we value said relationship in any form, we need to pray for them more often than we may care to admit. ‘Her’ shows us a story of a persona introducing a town to someone close to them, and this person who sees the town for the first time, is reminded that the town is very special, because ‘her’ is connected to it. It may be a lost love, or even a family member who’s passed away too soon, but whatever the case, the persona doesn’t get mad with ego, but instead shares the healing and hopeful words ‘tell be about her’ to this person they’re with. It’s giving permission to grieve loss in your own way (either a breakup or even a death allows people to experience similar loss), while sharing memories of said person, with the special someone, allowing them into a part of your world that is indeed delicate and vulnerable. The album then ends with ‘Slow Motion’, a song that delves into a relationship that seemingly is in a place where neither of them want to be. When we’re passed the ‘honeymoon’ phase of it and unfortunately experience the relationship at a faster pace than what either of us want; we need to intentionally slow down. Slowing down doesn’t mean to slow down the relationship, but it does mean to take more time with each other, to spend the time needed to foster a great relationship that can hopefully last the distance of years upon years that people in said relationship can be proud of.

An artist that is totally underrated, and one that is as much inspirational, as they are trying to get on with music and singing without making too much of a fuss about their disability; Mandy’s way of communicating without hearing is a testament of only one thing- God’s providence and grace over her life. With a steadfast devotion to de-stigmatising this notion that if you’re deaf or have something else, then you’re ‘less than’ everybody else; Mandy’s proof that with hard work, determination, and a willingness to try and fail, dreams can be accomplished, no matter how far they can seem to be in a distance. Mandy’s lack of hearing hasn’t slowed her down (at least musically), as the musicality of Paper Cuts sounds powerful and clear. Emotive and heartfelt, this is a must-listen if you’ve been a fan of Mandy’s previous music, or if you enjoy pop music with a jazz edge, or artists like Delta Goodrem, Rich Mullins or All Sons and Daughters. Well done Mandy for Paper Cuts, arguably one of my favourite albums of 2022 thus far.

3 songs to listen to: Masterpiece, Something I Can Feel, Carousel

Score: 4.5/5

RIYL: Delta Goodrem, Francesca Battistelli, Rich Mullins, Andrew Peterson, All Sons & Daughters

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