Mark Heard

Mark Heard Airborn 1976 (later reissued as "On Turning To Dust on AB Records in 1978)
 On Turning To Dust
 Cabin In Gloryland
 Solid Rock
How does one even begin to "review" one of Christian music's greatest songwriters? Well, let's get the statistical stuff out first - this is Mark's first solo effort after being involved in a high school band called Infinity Plus Three. Issued on a small custom label, this is actually the same album later released with the title 'On Turning To Dust'. The original Airborn issue is extremely rare and features an entirely different cover, a drawing of a butterfly. It comes with a large folded lyric insert and is described on the back as a "collection of attitudes concerned with life in the framework of Biblical Christianity". And so begins the journey of Christian music's most poetic and insightful artist - and a legacy that would span ten plus albums (not counting a couple of greatest hits releases). The music here falls into the simple acoustic category, similar to Appalachian Melody. Mark plays guitars, piano, synthesizer, and hambone(?) and succeeds in capturing a calm, tranquil mood, with some knee-slappin' hillbilly thrown in for good measure. A couple songs get a string quartet accompaniment and there are some brief synthesizer hymn interpretations. Lyrically very simple and straightforward. Later albums would mature both lyrically and in instrumental depth, but for peaceful inspiration this one's impossible not to like. KS

Appalachian Melody Solid Rock 1979
 On The Radio
Back in the late 70's every new release on the Solid Pock label was a momentous occasion for me. I remember when this one hit the racks - Mark who? Looked kinda folky, but it had that "Larry Norman Presents" teaser on the front so I bought it on the spot, took it home, played it and immediately thought "hmmm, that's nice - the Christian James Taylor". The album didn't sink in immediately as I was hoping for something musically more radical, but over time I began to see that there was something very special here. As with Mark's debut, Appalachian Melody is mostly acoustic ballads with a gentle- breeze, back-to-nature vibe, a few tenderly orchestrated, plus some light-to-middle-ground rock of the Stonehill-Norman variety with John Linn on lead guitar. Still sounds just as fresh today. KS

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