Jars Of Clay - 20 as reviewed in The Phantom Tollboothpick-of-the-monthAnother ‘Best Of?' ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Artist:            Jars Of Clay
Label:            Gray Matters
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Duration:        20 tracks, 1:28:46

This 20 song collection (18 songs selected by fans through pleadgemusic.com and two new songs one of which was previously release on a multi-artist sampler) celebrates Jars of Clay 20th anniversary as a band. Nearly all songs are acoustic based interpretations, with an elaborate use of strings, and well produced as is usual for a Jars album.

The following brief description provides highlights by tune:

  • “Fade To Gray”  - great build up from quiet acoustic to orchestrated and strong acoustic rhythm make this a great opener.
  • “Trouble Is” – deeper and darker than the original.
  • “Something Beautiful” – a smooth snare drum roll stays the foundation for the piano and vocals.
  • “Worlds Apart” – slower, lighter, dream-like.
  • “I Need Thee” – a slightly bolder portrayal of the old hymn.
  • “Tea and Sympathy” – smoother and very heartfelt, hits even deeper than the original. Beatles-like with latent, heavy strings. Always a showcase for Haseltine’s vocal qualities.
  • “Boys” – quiet and simple with easy acoustic backing.
  • “Silence” – like Worlds Apart, slower, lighter, dream-like.
  • “Dead Man” – playful version with acoustic guitar and synth giving a new face. More Beatles-like than most.
  • “No One Loves Me Like You” – playful and light with great play between piano and acoustic guitar.
  • “Collide” – awesome build up with hard-stroked piano and strong, strong rhythm.
  • “Oh My God” – lighter fare with solid, deep strings. Like so many Jars classics, Haseltine’s vocals again lead the message.
  • “Jealous Kind” – quiet entry with play between piano and vocals at its best. Backing violin brings home the heart breaking message.
  • “Safe To Land” – quiet and wandering.
  • “God Will Lift Up Your Head” – very different version with big breaks to slow down fast pace while smoothly starting up again.
  • “Inland” – big percussion gives a world music feel.
  • “Ghost In The Moon” – new tune, previously released on sampler.  Deep and dark with heavy percussion and harsh guitar accompanying desperate lead vocals and haunting backing vocals.
  • “Love In Hard Times” – deeper meaning from a more folk-like melody.
  • “If You Love Her” – new tune, soft and heart-felt.
  • “Love Song” – heavenly, a walk through the stars.

Another ‘Best Of?' ABSOLUTELY NOT! With a new, different, and often better face to the members of this collection, the collective is as important to the long-term fan as it is for the Jars newcomer. Although a few songs come off too mellow, this collection and its new twist on original songs plus two new tunes is a must.



Scott S Mertens