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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Sandra McCracken - Desire Like Dynamite - CD Cover Artwork
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\r\nimage © Smoldering Wick Music 2013

exclusive interview and photos (2013)

Sandra McCracken
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image © Smoldering Wick Music 2013


(26 May 2013) Sandra McCracken's latest offering is an eleven track collection entitled Desire Like Dynamite (Sandra McCracken (USA) 8 87516 03331 5, 2013). The CD is delivered in a gorgeously designed trifold cardboard sleeve that also includes a stunning full color eight-page booklet graced with all-new artist photographs and lyrics. Our version of the booklet omits credits and lyrics for "First Things First" as well as credits and part of the "Sweet Amelia" lyrics. Completists should to download the complete pdf from Sandra's website.

In addition to the lead and much of the backing vocal work, Sandra also contributes piano and guitar to many of the tracks. Jordan Brooke Hamlin, Derek Webb and Joshua Moore contribute to instrumentals while Lori Chaffer and Chesley Scott provide backing vocals to several of the tracks.

The Desire Like Dynamite album is McCracken's most ambitious and richly arranged project. Vocal work and arrangements--although diverse--contribute to the tremendous internal consistency achieved by McCracken and Webb's outstanding production of this 50 minute album. Read more about the project in our exclusive Sandra McCracken interview.

Desire Like Dynamite opens with the two upbeat and accessible tracks "Go" and "Hourglass" where Sandra's crystalline vocal is backed by harmonies that work perfectly atop the guitar-based arrangements. "Dynamite" is a contrasting acoustic ballad. Listen for McCracken's crystalline vocal lead and the woodwinds in the background of the arrangement.

We found "The Wait" to be one of the album's standouts. Here beginning with stark piano, McCracken's vocals appear to show the artist at her most vulnerable. A tremendous warmth develops within the track as the arrangement builds. And "Redbird" continues in a similar vein, piano building to richer arrangements, and delivering another one of the album's standouts.

Sandra's vocal power increases in the bluesy ballad "Gridlock." Crisp percussive arrangements with guitar and chime back the singer's crystalline vocal delivery. The down tempo "Forgiveness" showcases McCracken's reverb-heavy vocal lines atop a lone piano arrangement before instrumentation builds; listen for the sweet backing vocals within this track. "First Things First" continues in a similar style.

The album concludes with three primarily acoustic tracks. The country-style "Sweet Amelia" sung by McCracken alongside Derek Webb includes arrangements build on acoustic guitar with chimes with keyboard washes, crisp percussion and bass as the song develops. "Fall On Me" finds Sandra with minimal reverb singing atop piano and acoustic guitar with gentle orchestral washes. The album concludes with "In My Garden" sweetly sung primarily atop lone acoustic guitar.

New listeners and longtime Sandra McCracken fans are certain to be swept away by Desire Like Dynamite. Readers should be sure to grab the free NoiseTrade sampler Sandra published earlier this year. Fronted by McCracken's sweet vocal work, this album is a tremendous project whose outstanding production quality will be evident to listeners throughout. Superb!

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