Saturday, December 19, 2015

Jars of Clay Much Afraid (1997) Review

Jars of Clay "Much Afraid" - Available Here 
Even though Jars of Clay received platinum certification for “Much Afraid”, and was at the eight spot on the Billboard charts when this came out, this album was seen as disappointing for a lot of fans. I wasn’t so quick to judge it. I was 14 years old when this came out, and I needed something to help me through a life in the suburbs. My family moved 40 miles north of Los Angeles to a place that I was unfamiliar with. The home was in shambles emotionally, with abuse running rampant, and this record had me comforted. We stopped going to church, but I held a spiritual element to my world, and the words of Jars of Clay seemed to fit holes in my proverbial bucket. It’s a softer record than their previous one, and while the singles that they put out had electric guitar, it was the lyrical and spiritual blends that made this one a stand out for me in my collection, at the time. A lot has changed since I first heard this record, but the message remains, one of hope, amidst darkness.

As I type this in freezing weather, I toy back and forth with deleting this whole blog. I had envisioned a long running blog with a lot of sales from amazon affiliates, ad space being sold and much more. What I have seen instead is a lackluster response to my writing, and reviewing of music. However, this album came on and I had to write about it. I guess that’s where I find myself, having to write to an audience of none, because there’s something in me that maybe keeps pushing forward. I don’t know.

Back to the record, “Much Afraid” is akin to Toad The Wet Sprocket and Smashing Pumpkins. If you liked “Melancholy and the infinite Sadness”, then you will absolutely fall for this record. The band has found a way to make an amazing orchestral, and thought provoking record. There are strings, there is acoustic guitars, and some really good drumming, all things considered, throughout the record. There’s a focus on the beauty of life, with sadness, and pain throughout. There’s an ambivalence found in this record, one that is not often seen with Christian music, and that’s definitely a great thing.

As for stand out tracks, singles, and songs that haunt my mind when I pray, you will no doubt want to hear: “Fade To Grey”, “Crazy Times”, “Frail”, “Five Candles (You Were There)”, “Weighed Down”, and “Hymn”. This is not a hard hitting record. It’s a lyrically powerful one, however, and something that we all need from time to time. It’s a pop record with rock edge, but mostly it’s a look back to the mid-1990s contemporary Christian rock scene, which didn’t yet find the heaviness that was to come from a lot of bands. You can pick up Jars of Clay “Much Afraid” from amazon by clicking here.

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