jarsofclayJARS OF CLAY – ‘Inland’
In 1995 Christian rock outfit Jars of Clay released their eponymously titled debut album, that turned out to be one of the most superbly crafted pieces of musical material ever written. In spite of this, the album flew under most people’s radar (particularly in the UK) but several albums followed, each aspiring to match, but steadily falling short of that glorious debut. Acoustic Taylor guitars were gradually abandoned in favour of a rockier electric sound that had the negative effect of diminishing their raw sensitivity.  Strangely though, every intermediate EP release or live YouTube video shows Stephen Mason and Matthew Odmark strumming their trusty Taylors for that classic pure sound.  ‘Inland’ unfortunately follows the electric direction, but stripped back raw versions of key tracks ‘Age of Immature Mistakes’, ‘Loneliness and Alcohol’ and ‘Fall Asleep’ are available for free (or a ‘suggested donation’) on sneaky prequel EP ‘Noisetrade Eastside Manor Sessions’.  This means you have no excuse for not at least sampling this excellent album which has a commendable attempt at replicating the sheer brilliance of their early work.  ‘Fall Asleep’ is a superb piano backed track, which is perhaps singer Dan Haseltine’s finest moment on the album.  His soothing tone tells the story with such emotion and poignancy, you’ll be left with a lump in your throat.  If you are Atheist, Agnostic or a Deicide fan, do not let the ‘Christian’ tag put you off.  The Jesus/God references are subtle and far less in-your-face than other bands of this type, with lyrics that don’t preach but inspire and fine melodies with superbly enunciated vocal lines.  If you are already a fan of JofC then you will love ‘Inland’.  If you’ve never heard of them, buy their 1995 debut album, you will not regret it.  (8)




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