Jars Of Clay

Jars Of Clay

Essential, 1995


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Along with DC Talk, Jars of Clay were responsible for bringing Christian rock into the mainstream in the '90s. Released in 1995 at the height of the alternative/acoustic movement, the song "Flood" became a massive crossover hit and introduced CCM and Jars into a whole new breed of household.

Christian rock had no footing until Jars came about. While they were not single-handedly responsible for starting the movement, they influenced a number of acoustic-based Christian bands such as Third Day, Audio Adrenaline and Sixpence None The Richer. One can hear the seeds of those bands in this, Jars' best work and one of Christian music's crowning achievements. In fact, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Jars Of Clay went double platinum.

Musically, this is simple acoustic alternative pop, akin to R.E.M. Surprisingly, little of this is upbeat music -- while there are messages of hope, there is a slight sense of spiritual despair, as if the band knows they will never reach the heights they wish to attain. The terse song titles attest to this -- "Sinking," "Worlds Apart," "Flood" and "He" all deal with questions of faith, although they are not questioning of the faith. The difference is important.

Jars -- and singer Dan Haseltine -- are not preachy or trite, and that sells the album. In listening to each track, one feels the band are proud of their faith but treat it as intensely personal. The lyrics often involve "I" and "me," but instead of worshiping God, they seek to understand him. Perhaps the reason for this album's success is its lack of pretension. Jars does not want to convert anyone with this record. They just want to express their faith, warts and all, and hope someone understands it.

"Flood" is the best song on here, naturally, but "Worlds Apart" is a close second, a slow moody number that builds in intensity as the song's lyrics get denser. "Liquid," produced by Adrian Belew of King Crimson/David Bowie fame, uses strings and reverb throughout to achieve a haunting effect similar to what one would see if they stood alone in a Catholic cathedral staring up at a crucifix (which is sort of what the lyrics imply).

Generally speaking, Jars has more to offer than their counterparts and a better way of saying it. Fans of both Christian and regular alternative will find this a necessary purchase, and those put off by the Christian themes need not be worried. This is closer to U2 and Live in spirit and succeeds by being unpretentious yet catchy.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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