EP: Half-Captive ARTIST: Michelle Mandico
Michelle Mandico is a creative based out of Nashville, though her roots are firmly planted in the mountainous state of Colorado. Blessed with manifold artistic gifts, including painting and ceramics, Mandico released her EP Half Captive in 2015. Her personal philosophy of contemplating, relating, and taking intentional steps toward interior freedom come through with gentle honesty in her lyrical and musical compositions.
Half Captive features six original songs by Mandico. Mellow, thematic, thoughtful, and warmly produced, this EP reveals an irresolute but convicted heart. Mandico’s writing style is tender and unpretentious, giving insights into past relationships without either demonizing or sugar-coating the various angles of thwarted hope: Once you’ve made your mind up, you shut the whole world down/ governing an empty landscape high on sacred ground, she sings on a track titled Give it Up. The anguish of conflict is hinted at more than once throughout the EP. Lines like “a field of rhythm make our fights sound better than they should,” act as an acknowledgement of our human tendency to enshroud ourselves in the most salient aspects of any given situation in an effort to self-preserve, and in the process frustrate the potential for genuine intimacy and/or healing.
Piano figures in heavily, leading the way on the majority of the songs and providing a warm undertone throughout. Mandico has played for years, and writes the bulk of her songs while seated at the keys: the playfully shifting textures are like a bright thread throughout the project. Other pop elements round out the sound, with drums, bass, synth, guitar, and a string section making their presence judiciously known. Production is sonically cogent and water-tight: the EP possesses all of the trappings of a commercially conscientious heart-pop album, and takes a page from cinematic balladry. There are moments in which Michelle’s distinct personality shines through, however, beneath the perfection of production; moments when her crystalline voice takes leave of musical support and provides a more immediate glimpse into her rich and turbulent heart.
Half Captive is a well-made, thoughtful EP from a young woman who grants us a glance into her heart: a heart that craves stability and the four walls of home, yet balks at the suggestion of a static life that is predictable and tidily defined. Many listeners will take comfort in this collection of songs and the empathetic mind beneath them.
For more information on Michelle, explore her site at www.michellemandico.com.