Ali McManus – Unbreakable (Desert Dreams)
It is an over-used term to call someone’s music or their story inspirational, however just the fact that Ali McManus made Unbreakable is inspiring. McManus has been confined to a wheelchair since she was seven years old, is the survivor of 11 operations in her 21 years and has taken on music as a way to recall and connect with the beauty in life. As she explains in the press notes, “One song means three minutes of no pain.” (McManus also works as a speaker, and by the way the inspirational aspects of her music and her speeches are mostly in the secular vein of the term.)
It would be a sweet and a solid debut even if McManus had not overcome so many hardships to record it. The fact that she can sing so strongly (at 30% lung capacity) and write such pretty and positive songs is a treat.
Her talents were recognized by legendary rock producer Jack Douglas (John Lennon, Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper), who mans the production booth and gives McManus’ lovely tunes a sweet studio finish. From the gorgeous ballad title track to the country-tinged “Rhythm That Rhymes,” McManus shows a confidence and musical skill that belays her years. She has a sweet, slightly raspy singing voice (think Stevie Nicks or Maria McKee) and a natural ear for a melody.
Perhaps the best of the songs is the mid-tempo folk-rock strummer “Wings,” which definitely is worthy of airplay on some good AAA or even alt-country channel. Following is the drop-dead-gorgeous piano ballad “Heart Shattered” – the one kind of sad song in this pretty, upbeat mix, but it’s so pretty that it melody acts to soothe the pain, and it leads into a surprising rock-oriented guitar solo.
Despite the horrible curve balls that life has thrown at McManus, I have no doubt that she does not want her medical history to be the defining factor in her music and her career, and for sure it is not. Unbreakable would be an impressive debut for any musician. The fact that McManus overcame so much adversity to make it just makes it that much more impressive.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 14, 2018.