If you loved the distinct alternative pop-rock on their platinum-selling debut, you won't be disappointed with this follow-up! Wait until you hear their unforgettable melodies on lyrically driven songs like "Crazy Times", "Tea And Sympathy", and the title track.
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Third Album Switches Up Again| Posted January 30, 2008
We are beginning to learn a little fact about this band: Do not fall in love with a particular sound because more often than not, they will change it on the next album. So is the case, again, on If I Left The Zoo, the third album from the multi-platium selling group Jars Of Clay. Zoo explores many new playing fields for the band, from Dan's lead on vocals, to the entire bands exploration of new worlds within their music. The product is an completely new sound, that confuses the fan for the first couple "listen-throughs" but they once again, as before on Much Afraid, create a sound that we can all fall in love with. Lyrically, the focus is on relationships, with God and with man. No One Loves Me Like You Do is a wonderful acoustic song that drives home a message of everlasting love. We are still waiting for another song from this band that could have as much success as Flood. So far, two albums later, we are exploring musically with the band, which may be a good thing. A wonderful new creation from an ever developing band and keeps us all on our toes. I give this album a B+
Don't be Afraid of Jars of Clay| Posted October 06, 2008
The follow up to perhaps on the most key albums in Christian music, Jars of Clay’s second album dives into alternative pop rock and complex, but still faith fueled lyrics. Much Afraid is clearly among Jars of Clays biggest success with hits like "tea and sympathy” and “fade to gray”.
Opening the album is “Overjoyed”, a catchy pop song with an almost flawless tune, until the outdated guitar riffs in the bridge, but still a strong song with an impressive finish with the echoes. The album doesn’t extend its musical boundaries much, as Jars of Clay mixes their ballads with some light rock tunes with is starched out occasionally(and even then not very far), however by no means is the music insipid. “Portrait of apology” is a solid pop song which has engaging music enough to entice listeners while even the relatively simple “Five Candles (You Were There)" is nice.
Although “frail” isn’t a ballad soon to be forgotten that song, plus the ballad, “hymn”, are rather basic opposed to the emotional guitar driven “tea and sympathy”. The most intense song on Much Afraid is “truce” there pop rock has an aura of sheer excellence which is spiced with some piano notes. “Fade to grey” has a strong amount of originality in its fast paced medium rock; throw in the fact that the pre chorus is genius and its energy level and it’s a clear hit. “Crazy times” rounds the album out with its aggressive medium rock which includes a wild bridge that features plenty of electric guitars.
Those who want something simple to chew on will enjoy the worship track “hymn” and the honest title track (‘Oh, sweet Jesus, never ever let me go’) but Much Afraid includes more than milk. In the midst of doubt and insecurity, “fade to grey” realizes that God’s ‘love is willing /To turn me inside out’ and “Overjoyed” deals with finding one’s identify in Christ. The man on “Tea and sympathy” recognizes that relationships are worth saving, and "Five Candles (You Were There)" song is about relying on a friend ‘who was there when I needed you’. Those who want to go the extra mile will find plenty of depth in “Truce” and “frail”.
Perhaps the biggest problem is the lack of overall quality in Much Afraid; don’t be mistaken though, the music is good but it’s not quite cutting edge even though Jars of Clay does offer a pretty refined unique style. Well balanced out lyrics is the icing on the cake for a very satisfying album.