'The Builder and the Architect' by Sandra McCracken
I’ve loved listening to Sandra McCracken since the first time I saw her perform with Derek Webb at Calvin some five years ago. She has released three Americana/folk albums which demonstrated her fine songwriting, her compelling voice and her thoughtful way of looking at things from a Christian worldview. At the same time, though, she has been active with the Indelible Grace projects, setting old hymn texts to new tunes. I’ve mentioned my fondness for Indelible Grace here before so it’s no surprise that I like Sandra’s contributions to those albums. They’re among the highlights for me.
For her fourth solo album, The Builder and the Architect, McCracken brings these two parts of her musical life together and gives us an entire album of hymns. While these are all new recordings, some of the songs will be familiar to fans of Caedmon’s Call or Indelible Grace but McCracken’s sparse arrangements and warm vocals gives the songs a delightful new dimension.
Like all Indelible Grace songs, many of the songs included in Builder have lyrics that were written almost 100 years ago but the highlight may be the hymns for which McCracken composed both the words and music. The brand new texts that McCracken has written stand up nicely to old hymns that she has renewed. In all the songs, though, the emphasis on God’s grace and His work in our lives makes this an album that is encouraging and comforting. As much as I’ve liked her previous recordings this one is my favorite. It’s just what I need when I’m in the car after a long day. When I’m tired and need reminding of where my strength is, one listen to “Rock of Ages (When the Day Seems Long)” often does the trick. You can find this CD at www.sandramccracken.com or listen to even newer music at her myspace site.