Jars of Clay - Inland 90 x 90Jars of Clay has provided a true message of the journey that is Christian faith.

Artist: Jars of Clay
Label:  Gray Matters
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Duration:  12 tracks, 50:29 

Jars of Clay has become one of the cornerstones of CCM with its alt-rock, pop sensitivity and lyrical story. As is true for many of the band's works, there is a Christian message embedded in a message for all. And this is the model Christ gave us - to accept all in our life’s conversation. True to this model, Jars of Clay communicates our struggle with faith, what it means, how it feels.

What makes Inland different from their last few offerings is a return to very early recordings with a youthful, pop-oriented sound and lyrics. The message is bright and shines in lyrics that at once promote a singular, strong general thought while provoking any number of personal feelings. This is part of the gift vocalist Dan Hasseltine has in phrasing very well-written lyrics. But lyrics and vocals alone do not complete the package. Without outstanding, simple but profound guitar work and very solid rhythm the songs would not hold meaning.

“After The Fight” gives a fresh, dramatic entry to the album’s story amid heavy bass backing with a message of the struggle we can face with our faith. With an orchestrated string arrangement, “Age Of Immature Mistakes” takes us back to youthful trial and error. “Human Race” tells of the sorrowful state humanity has become, but is not a downer; the song’s harmony, wild lead guitar, and backing horns give hope. A sweet, slow message of hope also persists in “Love In Hard Times” with ‘Sometimes I just want to feel your hand in mine’.

Dark tales are present in “Pennsylvania” and “Loneliness & Alcohol,” the later being dark like its title with slightly echoed vocals and a deep, low beat leaving this tune dripping with sadness and loss.

“Skin & Bones” is a great example of how Jars of Clay can musically and vocally bring a song to its fullest height in message. The album’s story completes with its namesake ‘Inland’. Beginning with a vocal cadence like a child’s rhyme, a slide guitar builds to a strong melody with the refrain “You keep walking inland, no man is an island, you are home to me …love will set you free”. This is Jars at their finest.

The beauty of Inland is how the independent songs meld together to create story. This is the mark of a fine piece of art. As a whole, the message is not only intact but has a greater meaning. For Inland, the meaning is that faith and life can be a struggle, but hope remains that peace and love are found at the end of the journey, all is forgiven, we are accepted, we are forgiven, we are loved. With this, Jars of Clay has expressed thde heart of the journey that is Christian faith.


Scott S Mertens


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