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Much Afraid - Jars of Clay (1997)

Riding high on the success of Christian music's best-selling and highest acclaimed debut, four guys faced more pressure and expectation for their 1997 follow up than most artists face in their entire existence. Would Jars of Clay be a one hit wonder? With Much Afraid's release, all agree that question is certainly answered in the negative. Eleven tracks of profound honesty, undying passion and tender insight, with the listener gaining as much from the acoustic backdrop as the multidimensional lyrics. "Overjoyed" speaks of God's open arms of love; "Fade to Grey" tells of denial and subsequent divine intervention; the energetic "Crazy Times" is a commitment to repentance, while "Frail" laments the deception and doubt of the Christian world. And now you think, "Wait, I never heard that in those songs!" There's a thousand different things said in the Jars' songs and you have to listen closely...and often. "Five Candles" has taken on a life all its own, with many people hearing first shopping in Kroger, driving to Tulsa or eating at McDonalds; "You were there when I needed You / You were there when the skies broke wide, wide open." relates so much, and it's been said almost nonstop on radio for years now. "Weighed Down," my favorite cut, challenges the Christian culture to wake up to the reality of our shallow faith, God's endless plan for us and a world tormented by darkness. The struggle-in-music "Portrait of An Apology," #1 rock hit "Truce," the encouraging melody "Much Afraid" and worshipful "Hymn" round out one of Christian music's best albums to date.