252. Ashes and Light – Mark Heard


Mark Heard

Ashes and Light is the first of the two “forgotten” albums by Mark Heard. I refer to them as the “forgotten” albums in that they followed the very popular acoustic “Eyes of the Storm” album and preceded Marks departure from the CCM industry and several years of “silence” before returning with his own self-released classic trilogy of albums.

The record company demanded that Heard follow-up the success of EOTS with any acoustic album, hoping to capitalize on the success. Mark, in the mark heard fashion, responded with two rock album. Ashes and Light was the first and “mellower” of the two albums. The album also contains some of Heard’s most insightful and spiritually deep lyrics.

Sounding more like Tom Petty here than on any other offering, the album kick off with Winds of Time, a song, that if the record company had any idea what to do with Mark, would have been a genuine radio hit. True Confessions follows with some wonderful instrumental help by friend David Mansfield.

The first “acoustic” song on the album is the beautiful “Washed to the Sea.” Again there is more rock here than what the record company was looking for and, again, the missed the boat. The most likely candidate for success from the record companies perspective would be “We Believe So Well,” but the caustic and challenging and questioning nature of the lyrics made radio success impossible: “with the ashes and the dust/we sweep beneath the holy throne.”

Straw Men uses the phrase “pious anhedonia” which meant that no CCM radio programmer was going to play what they didn’t understand. The brilliant attack on Christendom’s failed history of building strong man arguments to promote their view is a long time personal favorite. Age of the Broken heart would have fit perfectly on “Stop the Dominos.”

The album closes with the stunning “In Spite of Himself” that is reminiscent of something from Bruce Cockburn’s Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws or Humans. That song a grace is a must listen and it will stick with you for a lifetime.

This may be a forgotten album to the marketplace, but not here…not ever.


  1. Shawnuel
    November 19, 2010 at 1:16 am

    The way Home Sweet Home has handled Heard’s back catalog is borderline evil, IMO. Janet and Rebecca get nothing from the sales of these records. Thank God for Dan Russell.

    Yeah…just listened to this a week ago. Love the Pious Anhedonia line and the couplets in Winds of Time like “It takes mare than good intentions, it takes more than an enigmatic smile, it takes more than a dogma in mime etc. What a way with the English language.

  2. aarjayaitch
    November 19, 2010 at 1:16 am

    Interesting: the “forgotten” albums were my introduction to Mark Heard (except for Tribal Opera, but that one stands alone.) When I heard Ashes And Light and Mosaics, I was hooked!

  3. Shawn McLaughlin
    November 22, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Mosaics was my introduction as well. When I was getting into him, his older releases were IMPOSSIBLE to get unless you stumbled upon them at a garage sale, which I did with both Stop the Dominoes and Victims of the Age. But I had heard Dry Bones Dance first.

  4. Ed Trivett
    February 18, 2011 at 4:39 am

    It’s so sad how Home Sweet Home has literally destroyed Mark Heard and his family. Ashes and Light is my favorite because of “Believe So Well” and “Washed to the Sea”. A true lost classic.

  5. Jon
    March 10, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Winds of Time is probably my favorite Mark Heard tune, although I love pretty much his entire catalog. I agree about what HSH has done with his catalog…

  6. Greenchili
    April 20, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Never realized how much I liked this album until I just listened to it again today. I think the hardest part (as odd as it sounds) was for me to get used to Mark Heards voice.

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