A fun Fall
Posted April 15, 2009
Ever since Jars of Clay’s self titled debut in 1995, the band have been one of the premier Christian artists. From frequently reaching the top of Christian music charts to reaching across to the mainstream aisle, Jars of Clay has been consistently putting out cutting edge music that appeals to a large crowd. Their latest album, The Long Fall Back to Earth, is a wonderful example of why the group has reached so much success. The first of many artistic singles to come “Two Hands” displays that time hasn’t worn down Jars of Clay’s soft-handed approach to piano fueled pop rock.
Devoted fans might have been upset that two songs from the Closer EP made the cut, but both the haunting ballad “safe to land” and the infectious, upbeat, synth-influenced sound of “closer” are terrific songs and hardly interrupt the other twelve brand new songs. The progressive piano sound of the instrumental opener “the long fall” transitions well to “weapons”, a fine track which unfortunately lacks the complexity to be a highlight. Even though there is a large amount of diversity on The Long Fall Back to Earth there are a few spots there the attempt to be original falls over the top. After a long intro the upbeat “Scenic Route" hits a bump with its attempted innovative bridge and the small techno influence “don’t stop” isn’t convincing. Still most of the album remains fresh with great songs ranging from the genius ballad “headphones”, to the slightly edgy pop tune “heaven”, to the solemn finale “heart”.
Whether it’s “tea and sympathy” or “mirrors and smoke” or “love is a protest” Jars of Clay has always been aware of the frustrations of love and it’s that topic which the album centers on. Both “Forgive me” and “safe to land” speak of the need for forgiveness (The latter states: ‘I’m in no weather for apology/I need your runway lights to burn for me’) because to the singer ‘the long fall back to earth is the hardest part.’ Fans will probably consider “There Might Be a Light” and “Heart” to be more cliché ridden than most Jars of Clay songs, but when the band switches topics strong stuff arises. “Boys (lesson one)” gives advice to young men ranging from revenge to leaving home ‘you’re not alone/Not since I saw you start breathing on your own/You can leave, you can run, this will still be your home.’ The most spiritually influenced song is “two hands” which talks about a conflicted relationship with our creator (‘I’m a liar who thirsts for the truth…I use one hand to pull you closer/The other to push you away’).
The lack of God centered lyrics might be a little disconcerting (“Hero” rightly states that ‘we need a hero/To save us from ourselves’ but suggests maybe God isn’t listening to us), but there is should enough to keep fans thinking about war, mercy, and eternity. On the musical spectrum, Jars of Clay keeps producing outstanding new music which will have old, and perhaps, new fans alike jumping after The Long Fall Back to Earth.
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