Wednesday, September 16, 2009

music recommendation: live under lights and wires

I had so much fun writing about Derek Webb's new album earlier this month (and hearing your responses) that I just might make music reviews a regular part of this blog. And it only makes sense to go from reviewing Webb's album right into a review (and enthusiastic recommendation) of his wife's latest project.

Sandra McCracken and her husband (Webb) invited a few lucky Belmont College students into their living room last December. They treated the students to an acoustic set of 14 songs drawn from McCracken's ten-year career as a singer-songwriter, and the resulting product (Live Under Lights and Wires) is an astoundingly beautiful live record. You know an album is good if it can make you feel like you are sitting in a Nashville living room when in fact you are having metal screws implanted in your gums (oral surgery yesterday - it went well, thanks for asking). And this one can.

Hard to choose, but these are a few of my favorite tracks:

Halfway -- McCracken was almost 8 months pregnant with her second child when this album was recorded, and I think this song might be about loving Baby #2.

The Tie That Binds -- Not like it's hard or anything, but this song makes me cry almost every time I hear it. It makes me think of my sweet nephew Asher and his first few months of life, but it also reminds me that although each of us shares the "curse that no man can escape," we also share a hope in "the winds that carry us home."

No More Tears -- So after I'm done crying over The Tie That Binds, I listen to this track about being done crying. This is probably the song that resonates most profoundly with me on a personal level. Maybe because it puts into words what I want (but often feel unable) to say.

You can download a 6-song sampler of this album for free (if you tell 5 friends) from Noise Trade, a website that Webb started to encourage what he calls "fair-trade music." Artists can sign up and post their music for free, fans can pay what they want for the music or tell 5 friends about it and download it for free. Webb's philosophy is that "a great record is its own best marketing tool," and that getting music out there for people to hear it is good for artists, fans, and the industry as a whole.

To summarize, if you have ever wished you were sitting in Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken's living room (or maybe you're not as creepy as me, but you still appreciate songs that tell stories, lovely harmonies, acoustic guitars, and the occasional banjo), follow the links above to download your free sampler. And then come back and tell me what you think!

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