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Hammers & Nails

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Album Review

It's a real tragedy. Not only did Mark Heard die so suddenly, and at the height of his songwriting powers, but many of his best songs are marred by poor production choices, or rather they're marred by having the ill luck of being born during the absolute nadir of recorded music — the late '80s. If this music were produced any other time besides the late '80s it would almost certainly have fared better. This posthumous collection brings together demos recorded between 1987 and 1989 and a handful of songs previously released on hard to find compilations. The demos are from a time when Heard was growing increasingly disillusioned with the music industry, and lyrically, the songs here are unflinching, gritty, and just plain real. If only the music had those same qualities. Although these are just demos, they're dated by an overly slick production style that too often brings Kenny Loggins to mind. If you're willing (and able) to overlook this and instead focus on the lyrics and themes, the songs redeem themselves, especially ones like "I Hang My Head" and "When His Luck Runs Out." They are all, to some measure, witty, snarling, sarcastic, mournful, and joyous. In terms of timeless insight, Heard is about as good as it gets. But at least here, the presentation hasn't aged very well.

Customer Reviews

I disagree

The person who wrote the review of this album and all of Mark Heards music can't seem to just admire his poetry and in his words realness. Mark was a very unique person who defied pigeon-holing. If you listen to his body of songs the style changes but the honesty and integrity of his words ring true throughout. In my mind Mark's gift was getting us to look at our everyday life from a different perspective and be true to our Christianity. The music as much as I like it is secondary to that glimpse into ourselves he presents. What we are hearing is someone else's idea of what the music should be since Mark has been gone for years. Instead of complaining about the instrumentation just admire his gift of language in expressing our hopes and fears.


Born: 1951 in Macon, GA

Genre: Christian & Gospel

Years Active: '80s, '90s

A brilliant, poetic singer/songwriter, his work displayed a deep spirituality and an honesty to the human condition uncommon in CCM. Heard died in 1992 of heart failure; High Noon recaps...
Full Bio
Hammers & Nails, Mark Heard
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