Album Debut: Jessica Manalo Shares Her 'Magic' With Listeners


Las Vegas songstress Jessica Manalo has cultured her sound with influences ranging from Amy Winehouse to Adele and even Stevie Nicks. Jessica Manalo aims to create music that is an honest reflection of her personal growth. Enduring many adversities, Jessica Manalo has overcome a multitude of obstacles as a queer Filipina and continues to use her music platform as a means to communicate strength, peace, and love to her listeners.


Jessica Manalo began her music career by performing at coffee shops and open mic nights. These performances encouraged Jessica Manalo to seek out something bigger with music, and today she's continuing to expand her artistic profile by releasing impactful, thought-provoking songs to the music world.


The latest work of Jessica Manalo includes her highly anticipated album release, titled 'Magic.' The album hosts 8 tracks, all of which are a complete narrative from the life of Jessica Manalo. She isn't afraid to get personal and vulnerable within 'Magic,' which was our most favorite aspect of her album-- the raw authenticity. 'Magic' had the ultimate purpose of reminding listeners that there is always a bright light at the end of the tunnel, no matter the current circumstance one is withstanding. She opens her album with the first track, "Record Baby," which was the most fitting song to guide listeners into the musical daydream of Jessica Manalo.


"Record Baby" begins with the creamy voice of Jessica Manalo, which immediately sends your ears into a blissful adventure. The modern voice intonations that get incorporated into prominent jazz performances is the kind of style that Jessica Manalo takes on in "Record Baby," as her voice holds the sultry, captivating qualities seen in such genres. Manalo's inner reflections get searched throughout the song, and she dives deep into her feelings, temptations, and realities. Listeners eventually get struck by an electric guitar solo, which elevates the ferocity of "Record Baby."


Like we said, "Record Baby" was the perfect beginning to the 8-track album, as the dynamic performance by Jessica Manalo was able to set a great tone for the rest of the record. Next up is "Silence," a track that will work to mesmerize you even more than "Record Baby" did. "Silence" begins with acoustic guitar rhythms that establish a serene ambiance. Listeners are whisked away by the magical atmosphere and attracted to the straightforward, direct story that Manalo delivers. We'll give you a warning: "Silence" definitely has the power to hit you in all of your feels. Jessica Manalo preaches her truth and inner character, making sure everyone knows that external opinions don't matter to her. Manalo proves she's more whole and at peace than ever before, and her harmonious melodies make her intricate lyricism all the more affecting.


Jessica Manalo continues gifting her elaborate harmonies in the album's next track, "Far Away From Home." Mmmmmmm. Right away we're infused with the gorgeous tones from Manalo herself, as she gives off goosebump-worthy melodies. She ventures through the deeper elements to her vocal range which shows off a more versatile component of her voice. The narrative itself is bittersweet in "Far Away From Home." At this point in the album, we're convinced that Jessica Manalo could make any collection of words sound good, but does "Far Away From Home" ever offer a bundle of thought-provoking, introspective reflections. With a strong analogy, Jessica Manalo unravels her heart in this song, letting listeners get a close-up look at her heart and mind. That seems to be a common theme on "Magic," as Manalo truly isn't afraid to revel in the realities of herself.


Coming up to the album's fourth track, "BedHead," we instantly feel an expulsion of warm, light energy. A whimsical feel is washed over listening ears, and once again Jessica Manalo is letting out all of her heartfelt emotions. She's missing a certain individual, and she crafts the right words to express her yearning appropriately. Vulnerability is no obstacle for Manalo which gives off such empowering energy.


All you want to do is hum along to "BedHead" and the simplistic auditory joys it unleashes. A more joyful production is intertwined into the song this time, although it offers a nice contrasting element to the storyline itself. Jessica Manalo teaches us that the yearning aspect of heartbreak is even more poignant than one could imagine and teaches listeners many valuable truths in the process.


Next up is a song that offers a deeply rooted narrative, one that is taught from the exploration of Manalo's mind once again. There are many takeaways from "Times Are Changing," and Jessica Manalo allows listeners to openly interpret as they may. Acoustic guitar melodies make up the underlying melody again, which brings that now-distinguishable, warm-hearted feeling that Manalo tends to bring with her everywhere her voice goes.


She continues the trend of crafting a peaceful environment through the slower and more laidback ambiance within "All This Time," the album's sixth song. Take a real, deep listen to Jessica Manalo here. She's delving into the depths of her empathy, heart, and overall understanding. She exudes a natural and radiant spirit, allowing listeners to get a real good look at her inner soul. By the time you reach "All This Time," you may very well realize what Manalo is capable of and the real effect she can easily elicit onto music lovers. "All This Time" only solidified that Jessica Manalo is the type of artist that is meant to be where she is right now--crafting a sound that affects real people and makes them feel real things.


Those light and airy acoustics persist within 'Magic,' the seventh track on the album. Jessica Manalo opens a simplistic story in "Magic," giving listeners the time to sit back and ease into her lax track. The magic of Manalo's life is shared and yet the real magic is produced by her particular intonations, effortless yet strategic and truly affecting. More of Jessica Manalo and her mind are unraveled as she expresses her many truths within "Magic," truths that have the potential to spark many speculations from listeners.


We can all agree that this last year has truly been one for the books. Jessica Manalo builds off of the various tribulations occurring within the last year, especially regarding her personal life, and she crafts the final song "One Hell of a Year" with it. Manalo once again isn't afraid to sing out her honest mind and she shines a bright light on her changing emotions and mindset during her last year. Many obstacles she endured were expressed, as well as difficult feelings surrounding very potent emotions, such as love. "One Hell of a Year" explores so much of Jessica Manalo's mind and we garnered such an appreciation for her artistic soul through not only the song but the entirety of her album.

All in all, 'Magic' was an incredibly textured album that served many grander purposes, for both Jessica Manalo and her audience. 'Magic' offered an array of emotions, moments of peace, frustration, sadness, and hope. Jessica Manalo successfully articulated her words into a nicely packaged album and we highly suggest listeners take the time to not only soak in each word she delivers but to open their soul to the incredible mindset and energy she emulates.



Can we start by chatting more about the drive and purpose for the album as a whole for you? What kind of intention did you have in mind for the album's listeners?

My intention for the album is to let people know that they are the creators of their lives. We can transform ourselves and any situation. "Magic" is just another word for "manifesting." In my album, the songs are explicitly ordered in a timeline of events. From the first song to the last song, it had been almost a decade of my personal life experiences. I get older, and I get wiser. You will hear heartbreak, strength, spirituality, and experiences I thought I'd never go through, let alone..overcome.

Considering the many personal experiences you covered throughout 'Magic,' would you say that writing or recording any of the tracks was difficult emotion-wise?

Writing the songs were of course, a lot more complicated as opposed to recording them. I usually write songs when I'm going through that specific experience or if it is fresh after that experience. That's how I get the music to have a particular vibe because the feeling is so new. For example..when I wrote "One Hell of a Year," I was having a tough time. At the time.. and you will hear in the song's lyrics, I was having severe anxiety issues that would not go away. I wrote that song as I was trying to kick a panic attack.. and it helped! But that was very literal..of course, writing any of my songs takes me back to many places. Good and bad. On the other hand, recording the songs is just way more fun. I focus more on the production side of things that I geek out and forget it's real-life stories that are mine, and I have fun playing with sounds and finding ways to blend them to create a "vibe."

How would you word it if you could sum 'Magic' up into one statement regarding its main takeaway message? Were you looking for open interpretation with your songs, or were you hoping your listeners would resonate with a specific message?

If I could sum up "Magic" into one statement..hmm. Follow the good feelings, and that will take you where you want to be. I'm always open to interpretation. In some of my songs, I wrote very vaguely on purpose for just that reason. There are songs like "Magic" and "Silence" where I'd hope my listeners would resonate more with a specific message. "Magic" is all about manifesting your dreams, and "Silence" is about not caring what other people think of you.

Do you have any plans in place for performing your album 'Magic' at any venues/online platforms?

I performed my album "Magic" at a venue called Ferguson's Downtown in Las Vegas. It was a beautiful evening, and it was my first full-band show back in Vegas since moving back from Oregon. It had been three years since I had just planned to promote through Instagram and Tik Tok and make a bunch of music videos!


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