For those willing to slow down, God’s Highway offers substantial substance and is deeply reflective.
Artist: Sandra McCracken (www.sandramccraken.com)
Label: Towhee Records
Length: 11 tracks/45 minutes
If you have a record player and can afford to pay a little more, consider getting God’s Highway by Sandra McCracken on vinyl. If you accept the idea that records sound better, you might feel justified once the needle drops. Why even my digital download sounds vibrant! How much more the grooves on a 12 inch? Plus, you will be helping to support an artist that has a heart for psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
The supposed warmth of vinyl is a complement to the organic tones found here. No synthesizers and programming. This sounds like a group of musicians playing live in the studio on guitars, bass, piano and drums. Electric guitar adds texture. Drums are on the soft side.
The roots oriented style is a vehicle for themes like waiting and hope, in conjunction with the attributes of God. These are modern day gospel songs for pilgrims on God’s highway.
Allusions to and adaptations of Scripture abound; there is no wooden literalness. McCracken knows how to translate Bible truths into song. Each one remains saturated in a biblical worldview. Four of them even have a Scripture reference in the title.
This is a songwriter’s praise and worship. It is rich in poetic imagery and deep thought. With the music being either slow or mid-tempo, and with plenty of space to hear each instrument, this can become a meditative experience. It reminded me of Fernando Ortega’s The Breaking of the Dawn.
In its simplest form as on “Trinity Song,” featuring All Sons and Daughters, I’m captivated by the delicate beauty. This has singing in rounds. There is wonderful restraint in this release in every phase, as heard in the number of instruments, background vocals, the choice of words, etc.
I like how “Come Light our Hearts” and “Be Still my Soul” (an original song) touch on being quiet before God. This whole record can be aid toward that end.
The closing “Song for Rachel” is just McCracken with piano backing. I appreciate the thought in the chorus:
Until the trumpet sounds,
Until our home comes down,
Children of Zion raise up the sound
Until our home comes down
People imagine going up to heaven. How often do we think of the New Jerusalem coming down? It’s a biblical picture (Revelation 21:10).
McCracken breaks into beautiful falsetto on the closing refrain:
Your deliverance is coming
For us while we wait,
In the wilderness You walk before us,
Give us grace
What a fitting benediction. This is someone to follow as we travel this way.