Christian music is undergoing a kind of renaissance of late. I’m sure there are those who would argue that there was always good Christian music to be found in the industry. But the majority hasn’t aged well at all, and it has never been as accessible as now, what with the Internet and its blogs drawing attention to the noteworthy music out there, both major label and independent. As far as independent music goes, Sandra McCracken’s Desire Like Dynamite is exactly the album every artist is striving to make. Dynamite is a confident folk record, an album that doesn’t feel the need to sound like the folk that’s popular now, but uses the trappings of the genre to at once fit into and expand the themes of its music.
For someone using the word “dynamite” in the title of her album, Sandra McCracken sounds remarkably at peace with the world. Even when the music swirls around her like a hurricane, her voice maintains its breezy quality, floating through the lyrics without a care in the world. Not that she comes across as careless, or even emotionless. On “Dynamite”, McCracken sings rather accurately about the choices our heart makes, explaining that our heart often makes the wrong choice and hinting that the consequences can be explosive. She gets emotions and feelings, but they don’t faze her. Maybe the right word for McCracken’s voice is “focused”. There are all kinds of hard situations and weighty emotions on Dynamite– parents pining for the child they’re adopting from overseas on “Sweet Amelia”, a person desperately in need of grace on “Forgiveness”, a friend crying out an offer of help to someone suffering alone on “Fall on Me”- but they’re in the lyrics, not in the singing of them.
McCracken is well aware of all these things happening, but her voice is the voice of someone with an eternal view. Throughout the whole record, McCracken is looking to the future, to when “every good thing [will be] restored” and when “the sword is thrown into the sea.” The best Christian music tackles its subjects with an eye on the eternal, on the majesty and sovereignty of God. Sandra McCracken has infused every word and every note with God’s promises for the future in mind. You won’t find more beautiful music than Desire Like Dynamite this year, nor will you find music more attuned to God’s promises. Dynamite is a the most confident of folk records, because it’s confident in God.