"Turn all my rags to white, turn all my words to rhyme/Turn all the sorrow to shining faces/Make all my dreams satisfied, make all the broken things right/Make all the dead come alive" — from "Last Goodbye"

If Sheryl Crow fully embraced her alt-folk and roots/country tendencies, she'd probably sound a lot like Sandra McCracken. Fans of intelligent acoustic pop/rock songwriters like Kendall Payne, Sarah McLachlan, and Jill Paquette are likely to appreciate McCracken's lyrical insights. And if you enjoy the voices of Christine Denté, Mindy Smith, and Nichole Nordeman, McCracken's got a similarly appealing grassroots alto.

Not that this talented artist is completely unknown to the Christian music scene. Most enthusiasts of independent music are aware of her previous two acclaimed albums: 1999's The Crucible and 2001's Gypsy Flat Road. Even more will recognize her as the woman who married Derek Webb, contributing songs and vocals to his solo albums, as well as Caedmon's Call and the City on a Hill series. With her husband, she's shown a particular love for rewriting old hymns with more contemporary folk melodies.

That resumé may seem a bit misleading to anyone who goes into McCracken's latest recording expecting an album of explicitly Christian songs. But Best Laid Plans is on track with her previous solo albums, focusing more on humanity than themes of spirituality. The bulk of it is focused on strained relationships in search of hope and healing. "Plenty," for example, starts things off on a somber note with its frustration over failed love, and "No More Tears" similarly depicts a broken relationship at the end of its rope.

Yet McCracken balances these with the potential for reconciliation. "Find You Out (What ...

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