On his fourth album Closer, Shawn McDonald leaves behind the “promising newcomer” label and bids to become a Christian singer/songwriter of the first rank. The songs (all McDonald originals, some co-written with such notables as Brandon Heath and Joy Williams) reflect the artist’s recent personal upheavals, including a painful divorce. It’s not surprising there are expressions of spiritual struggle here — but what’s more notable is the sense of renewed faith captured in these tracks. Such tunes as “Hope,” “Rise” and “Storms” are the anthems of a bruised but resilient spiritual pilgrim. Whether he’s yearning for a closer walk with God in “The Space Between Us” or searching for a higher Love in “Mystery,” McDonald brings immediacy to universal questions of faith. If Closer’s lyrics are often as simple and direct, its music is a nuanced blend of acoustic guitar sounds, slinky grooves and string quartet accents. Simmering numbers like “Better Way,” ”Eyes Forward” and the title track combine hypnotic rhythms with a hip neo-folk ambiance.