Reviewed by James Lewis
There is something about christian singer/songwriters, a rule that dictates that they should receive lots of praise and very little in the way of sales. T-Bone Burnett, Bruce Cockburn, Peter Case, Tonio K are just some that spring to mind, but the first one I discovered, from a tape that I brought some 15 years ago at a OM conference (for 50p!), was Mark Heard, where I first heard a Christian musician that was truly a talent in his own right (coincidentally his all the above artists were friends and fans of Mark). What anyone who only tapped into his last few albums might be surprised to hear is that apart from writing ballads of aching beauty, he could also turn his hand to southern boogie. 'Im In Chains', the first track on his album (also recorded for that first tape of mine "Stop The Dominoes") could actually sit alongside your Lynyrd Skynrd albums, as could 'Gimmie Mine'. This fairly obscure album was recorded for a Swiss label with an even lower budget than Mark was used to, and the improvised techniques he used to self-produce the album were pretty resourceful. The sleevenote interview and the lyrics reveal one of the most intelligent and literate artists that CCM has ever produced, and 'Es Tur Mir Leid' and 'ThreefoldAmen', if hardly my favourites, show a playfulness that his official albums never really hinted at. Still sadly missed.
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