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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Jars of Clay -- The Eleventh Hour

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It's safe to say I might never completely understand the way I feel about Jars of Clay's third album, If I Left the Zoo. I don't hate it, but it's very far from my favorite. Compared to the rest of the band's work, it is a little short on power. There aren't many moments on If I Left the Zoo that come close to the power of a "World's Apart" or a "Frail." Also, with the band attempting to explore new directions, If I Left the Zoo is short on focus, as well. Fourth album, The Eleventh Hour, rectifies these problems. That sentence was meant to be serious, but rectify just sounds too much like rectum.
The Eleventh Hour has a clear focus musically and lyrically. Soundwise, The Eleventh Hour explores an expansive, Euro-rock style. Does that make any sense? The songs sound big, the drums go back and and forth between...
Crap. Here's the problem I always have promoting Jars of Clay:
No one wants to listen to the band's work past their debut. Obviously, that was a great album, and none of the rest of their work sounds like it, but Jars of Clay got out from under the weight of it, and anyone who appreciates good music needs to do the same.
The Eleventh Hour doesn't sound like the self-titled album. It uses electric guitars much more, and the bottom end is far more driving and rockish, and far less hip-hop sounding than the debut's. The songs focus on "need" as the centerpiece, and lead single "I Need You" spells out the theme. "I Need You" is a very simple song with the chorus simply those words repeated as nearly a mantra. The simplicity actually becomes mystical, and the song takes on a power the band would prove they could wield for the next decade, and possibly for the next ten years and the next until they are just a bunch of superhuman skeletons, holding guitars.

If you didn't like that, I'm going to review six more albums by this band, and they all sound different. I'm not going to bring up their debut again, and I am just going to act like Jars of Clay are the great band they are.
Showing great depth, the song immediately after "I Need You" is "Silence," which follows the cry of "I need You" with the question "Where are you?" It's a difficult song, but if you've been through anything, you can empathize. Bringing up the rear, the title track maturely explores the idea of "need" to its conclusion, with a dogged hope and resolve that is tear-inducing if you have feelings. If you do have feelings but can't get into the band's faith, someone made a video for the song with the Doctor as Jesus, and Amy as the attractive ginger you pretend to be in the mirror when no one is around. Since I enjoy Jesus, Doctor Who, and Jars of Clay, this video gets triple points. This review also gets triple points for using the words "rectum," "crap," "bottom, and "rear."

I'm gonna go redeem those points right now and get a sandwich. What, did you think I was gonna say fish fingers and custard?

2002 Essential
1. Disappear 3:56
2. Something Beautiful 3:46
3. Revolution 3:42
4. Fly 3:20
5. I Need You 3:40
6. Silence 5:17
7. Scarlet 3:32
8. Whatever She Wants 3:43
9. The Eleventh Hour 4:27
10. These Ordinary Days 3:04
11. The Edge of Water 3:54

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