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Windows and Walls

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Sep
Windows and Walls
Sounds like … the familiar adult contemporary approach of 4Him, Phillips Craig & Dean, Casting Crowns, and MercyMe.At a glance … the songs on Windows and Walls are often personable and inspirational, but Mark Harris' now predictable AC pop sound could use a more personalized overhaul to match his new season of writing.Track Listing Windows and Walls
I Will See Jesus
Writing on the Wall
One True God
For the Glory of You
The Half
Living Room
Let the Redeemed
Use Words
Come to the Mountain
Nothing Takes You by Surprise
In a Moment or Two

Interesting to note that when Mark Harris released The Line Between the Two in 2005, it was intended as a temporary diversion from his work with 4Him. He simply wanted to record some more personal songs, never planning to lay the groundwork for a long-term solo career. But months later, the enduring pop group decided to disband and pursue individual projects/ministries. Then "Find Your Wings" found its way up the Christian AC charts, eventually earning Harris a Dove Award for Inspirational Recorded Song. The path to a full-time solo career became clear.

It's been two years since his debut and Harris is already two albums ahead of two of his pals from 4Him, realigning himself with veteran Christian AC songwriters Dave Clark and Tony Wood for the release of Windows and Walls. As with his first album, Harris succeeds in crafting some songs with more personality and inspiration than the average AC pop artist. "Writing on the Wall" is essentially his next "Find Your Wings," sweetly reminiscing over a son's growth and the passage of time. "The Half" poignantly reflects on the joys and surprises God unfolds in our lives, while "Nothing Takes You by Surprise" provides thoughtful words on God's sovereignty despite tragedy.

The album's weakness is the same that has plagued many Christian AC artists for years and only snowballed with time: a lack of fresh, musical ideas or genuine artistic growth. The problem is not the production; Harris worked with Nathan Nockels and Pete Kipley to successfully avoid an overly sterile pop sound. But after a while, the songs feel like they're unfolding in exactly the same way every time, with melodies resembling others before it and blandly recalling Christian pop from 15-20 years ago. Nothing against the style, especially for those who like it—fans of Harris' first album will find more of the same here. But how I wish for a veteran like Harris to break outside the cookie cutter AC mold after all this time, matching his new season of personalized songwriting with an equally personalized musical stamp.

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