Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In Feast or Fallow

It's beautiful when you latch on to a musician who's also a songwriter, even better when that songwriter's a poet, and better still when she inspires you--or disciples you really--in faith and life. That's Sandra McCracken for me. I'm passionate about her poetry (and the melodies that lift it to song), the way I'm passionate about Lauren Winner's prose.

Today Sandra (who's husband Derek Webb has also influenced my life and theology in big and small ways over the years) launched a preview of her soon-to-be released album In Feast or Fallow. It's a hymns project that follows her 2006 album, The Builder and the Architect. Derek and Sandra have helped to forge the way for the hymn resurgence that's been making moves in the South in recent years. They are a driving force behind the Indelible Grace project, which is recorded through Reformed University Fellowship at Belmont University in Nashville. And I feel a special kinship with them because they are members at a sister church of West End Community (my church in Nashville). Frequent opportunities to hear these two play live are some of the things I miss most about living in Nashville--I'm trying to raise some awareness for them here in New England!

As she often so graciously does, Sandra released a rough version of one of the cuts from this record, an old Luther Christmas hymn, via Noisetrade (a site that allows artists to give songs away in exchange for fans' spreading the word to their friends). I plugged that song in my Advent Tunes post back in December, and it has become a favorite carol! Today she's released three more songs on Noisetrade! You can get them by clicking on the widget below and forwarding a message to friends or posting a link on your facebook wall. Genius! You can also access the widget on the left-hand sidebar of wherethecloudsettles.

Sandra talks about the album in an interview with "Patrol" that captures why I love her as an artist and a person. Here's a little snippet, but if you have a few minutes, read the whole thing!

When you released Red Balloon last summer, Paste magazine said: "Three years ago, Sandra McCracken released The Builder And the Architect, a collection of reworked traditional hymns that remains one of the strongest albums in her near-decade-long career. Her latest, Red Balloon, only sounds like a collection of hymns." How do you respond to a statement like that, that can go so many ways?

I thought it was interesting that they mentioned the hymns record. That the writer of the review would mention that and draw the parallel to me is a high honor. The songs I wrote on Red Balloon were full of themes about having our first baby, dealing with a lot of personal situations, and narratives around people I really love. So that songs about everyday could be called spiritual, to me is an indicator that those things are starting to become integrated, that spiritual is becoming everyday life, and everyday life is becoming spiritual. I think that's an important discipline of the journey of faith, that over the years they're becoming less and less separate and more and more holistic.

So there you have it. My long-winded shameless plug for the day. Check this girl out!


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