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Friday, November 15, 2013

Jars of Clay -- Redemption Songs

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While it may not have sold a million copies, Jars of Clay's fifth album, Who We Are Instead, was quite well received. The band decided to explore the sound and themes of that album even further by taking the next logical step: releasing an album entirely composed of re-envisioned hymns. However, Jars of Clay are wise enough not to attempt to breathe new life into these songs--they understand they have to let these songs breathe new life into them.
The joy the band is experiencing by simply playing these songs is infectious and powerful. Nothing here sounds like it was written hundreds of years ago, yet the collection feels ancient all the same. Redemption Songs takes the gospel and country flavors of Who We Are Instead and infuses into them a touch of what, in 2005, would have been called "indie quirk." In other words, there's a twinkle and a bounce to these songs that sets the collection apart from other Jars of Clay albums. Though it is a natural progression from its predecessor, Redemption Songs continues the tradition of no Jars of Clay album sounding like another. Going back to the second sentence in this paragraph, despite the constant hops in genre, there's an underlying timeless identity to every Jars of Clay release, and Redemption Songs is no different. And let us not forget how powerful this band can sound.

2005 Essential
1. God Be Merciful to Me (Psalm 51) 4:31
2. I Need Thee Every Hour 3:47
3. God Will Lift Up Your Head 4:22
4. I'll Fly Away (featuring Sarah Kelly) 4:42
5. Nothing But the Blood (featuring The Blind Boys of Alabama) 4:13
6. Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder 4:23
7. O Come and Mourn With Me Awhile (featuring Martin Smith) 4:04
8. Hiding Place 4:06
9. Jesus, I Lift My Eyes 3:28
10. It Is Well With My Soul 3:54
11. On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand (featuring The Blind Boys of Alabama) 4:32
12. Thou Lovely Source of True Delight 4:31
13. They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love 3:02

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