Album Review :
Jars of Clay - Jars of Clay

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Artist: Jars of Clay
Album: Jars of Clay
Label: Essential Records
Release Date: October 24, 1995
Review by: Michael Mayer III

Tracklisting:

  1. Liquid
  2. Sinking
  3. Love Song for a Savior
  4. Like a Child
  5. Art in Me
  6. He
  7. Boy on a String
  8. Flood
  9. Worlds Apart
  10. Blind

This is one impressive way to start a career. Right off the bat it seemed like Jars of Clay were hitting on all cylinders. What with the beautiful harmonies, atmospheric music, poignant lyrics, and passionate vocals, it’d be hard to think of them outdoing themselves. The touch of female vocals with the slow build up and explosion on ‘Worlds Apart’ and the eerie children laughter before ‘He’ shows they were serious about making a quality piece of art and not just selling as many records as they could. They were willing to go outside the box and write songs that didn’t just appeal to one audience over the other and that helped them become popular in a hurry.  Sure, there’s a nice flow of pop music here and there that remains stuck in your head long after you’ve finished listening but, just as important, is the use of all sorts of instruments (like the powerful piano presence in ‘Blind’) that was anything but status quo.

Let’s talk about ‘Worlds Apart’ for a second though. Flood might have been the big hit, but the brutally honest lyrics in ‘Worlds Apart’ is, without a doubt, the reason it is my favorite Jars song. It’s actually the same reason Jars of Clay are my favorite band. I just connect with them on a personal level that goes beyond the music. As the song builds up to it’s ultimate climax my heart pounds and I just feel something. Let me give an example of the powerful writing:

I look beyond the empty cross
Forgetting what my life has cost
And wipe away the crimson stains
That dull the nails that still remain
More and more I need you now,
I owe you more each passing hour
The battle between grace and pride
I gave up not so long ago
So steal my heart and take the pain
And wash the feet and cleanse my pride
Take the selfish, take the weak,
And all the things I cannot hide
Take the beauty, take my tears
The sin and soaked heart and make it yours
Take my world all apart
Take it now, take it now
And serve the ones that I despise
Speak the words I can’t deny
Watch the world I used to love
Fall to dust and blow away
I look beyond the empty cross

As Dan is singing that, he gradually grows louder and the rest of the band becomes more prevalent. I don’t expect everyone will connect the same way I do but we all have those songs and albums that just leave us speechless. This is mine. I just wish more bands would go beyond the typical bass/guitar/drums lineup and push themselves to craft unique music like Jars of Clay did back in 1995. I’d also like to add that this is probably one of the best albums you could get someone who was just won to Christ given the subject matter of most of these songs. It’s like the soundtrack to a walk with Christ and it’s helped me at different times in different ways.

Gems of this album are: ‘Flood’, ‘Worlds Apart’, ‘Liquid’, ‘Love Song for a Savior’

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