Producer: Jeff Collins & Mark Fain
Record Label: Sonlite Records/Crossroads Music Group
It had been over two years since Mark Bishop had done a project, so his fans will be thrilled to see a brand-new offering from him. By his own words, it is a bit different than his past projects. He has brought together one that go back to the “roots” of gospel music. The project is entitled “Some Distant Mountain” and the cover gives you the very essence of the eleven songs that Mark has included in this offering. Mark has hit a home run on what he envisioned in this project.
It brings together songs that touch on the Celtic, the European, the African Traditional influence on our music. The first single from this project shows that Mark has reached out in various ways to find songs that fit the theme. “Like A Songbird That Has Fallen” was written and performed first in the movie, Cold Mountain, but Mark, with a contributing harmony vocal from Endless Highway’s Ally Griggs, brings a gospel sound to it. Ally contributes on the second song as well, “Across the River” which is Mark’s latest radio single. This song brings out the Celtic roots as the music will remind you of a Scottish tune.
Mark has two other songs that talk about the “river” whether it is one that we must face in our lives or when we think about crossing that divide into eternity. “One Wide River to Cross” is an old-time mountain tune first performed by the Country Gentleman while Mark brings his unique style to the traditional Christian song, “Shall We Gather at the River”. It is always a pleasure to hear one of the great hymns of our faith done in the traditional style which Mark does with this song.
Nothing is ever as hearing a classic done in acapella and that Mark does with the great African spiritual, “Were You There”. The words of this song make this one of the favorite Easter songs and doing it acapella is always understanding. Another African spiritual, “Early My God Without Delay” not only shows the deep influence that their spirituals have on our music, but with lyrics by Isaac Watts, also showing the European influence as well.
A group known as Chance McCoy and Appalachian String Band first performed another song included entitled, “Gospel Plow” The mountain influence again is highlighted in this offering which has the line “—Hold Your Hands on the Plow” when we are plowing the field sowing our faith for others.
Mark has done extensive research on these 11 songs before including them on this project. For the song, “Prophet Admiration” he has enlisted the vocal assistance of Sonya Isaacs of the Isaacs and the banjo from David Marshall of the Marshall Family. They had previous recorded this song before. The combination is one of the highlights of this project.
The country roots are brought again in “All My Tears Be Washed Away.” This is such a wonderful promise, first sung by Emmylou Harris, that tells us that no matter what has happened on earth whether it be good or bad that when we get to heaven All my tears be washed away.
Two other outstanding songs on this project are “Hardly the Load” and “The Most Ordinary Days.” As I said earlier, this project is quite unique by Mark’s own description but is one that all of his many fans will want to hear.