McCracken’s 12th album is a rich, live LP of modern hymns, recorded in an intimate setting.
Label: independent
Time:  CD: 14 tracks / 60 minutes -- DVD: 17 tracks / 72 minutes

Knowing some of Sandra’s personal story as I do, both from following Caedmon’s Call as well as having the opportunity to meet her at the 2016 CCEF conference (where she both led worship and served as a keynote speaker), this album has an extra layer of richness that not every album stamped “Christian/Religious” can boast.  Sandra isn’t just a songwriter, but a worshiper genuinely calling out to the Lord in the midst of heartache, not unlike David in the Psalms.  In that regard, she is truly a modern-day hymn writer, a unique voice in the pop/praise market.  It isn’t merely a stylistic choice, because the folk/singer-songwriter mantra isn’t unique among contemporary artists – Christian or otherwise.  It’s the weight of experience balanced with the weight of Scriptural truth, woven into careful songwriting.

Released August 25th, Steadfast Live is Sandra’s 12th independent release, recorded live at Nashville’s Art House with friends and family as audience participants, as well as a number of guest vocalists: David Leonard, Lea Fulton, Leslie Jordan, and Liz Vice.  The album includes arrangements of powerful pieces from Psalms (2015) and God’s Highway (2016), in addition to five new hymns.  The concert maintains the raw honesty of a worship service, with a warm, organic sound throughout.

Sandra’s band understands both the heart and the scope of these pieces, offering tasteful accompaniment while still demonstrating their virtuosity.  Spencer Cohen is the type of drummer who knows how to fill a space without overplaying, and directs traffic wonderfully with careful time-keeping.  Upright bassist Jay Foote blends carefully with McCracken’s piano and Cohen’s percussion, and also adds colorful inserts – such as the melody of “Be Thou My Vision” during an interlude in the hymn.  Kenny Meeks’ guitar work is tasteful and genre-appropriate, lending powerful dynamics to the compositions.

Sandra speaks of the album as an attempt to lay aside personal feelings in an effort to focus more on God’s own presence, and “mak[ing] space for other people to experience [Him as well, and for that reason,] the songs are coming more like gospel songs these days.  There’s so much more of an exchange of energy, love and community that happens when we sing together.  Gospel songs do that, they pull us up out of the moment we’re in and they promise that the morning is coming.”

For all these reasons, Steadfast Live blends so appropriately the elements of joy, hope, and sorrow – the intrinsic elements of the Christian walk ensconced by Paul in 2 Corinthians 6.10.  For the worshiper struggling with fear, these are songs that proclaim security and trust.  For the worshiper crushed beneath debilitating loss, these are songs that proclaim the hope of every tear wiped away, every battle won, creation made anew.  For the worshiper overwhelmed by the grace and majesty of God, these are songs overflowing with adoration for Father, Son, and Spirit.

Let this wonderful release speak to your soul.

01 “Almighty God Prelude”
02 “Almighty God”
03 “Trinity Song” (with All Sons and Daughters)
04 “Steadfast”
05 “Sweet Comfort”
06 “Justice Will Roll Down”
07 “Be Thou My Vision”
08 “God's Highway”
09 “Call Him Good”
10 “Continuously”
11 “With Great Gentleness”
12 “All Ye Refugees”
13 “Love Will Bring You Home”
14 “We Will Feast”

DVD Bonus tracks:
15 “Flourishing”
16 “To Him Who Is Able”
17 “Jesus The Lord”

Justin Carlton