Seeing all of the Facebook status updates and Tweets coming live from a Jars of Clay showcase in Nashville earlier this week, I was intrigued by all of the glowing comments about the new songs. Then I remembered that the CD came across my desk a few days ago. So I put it in my “listen to” pile yesterday. The new album, The Long Fall Back to Earth, released today on Gray Matters/Essential Records.
I put the CD in the player and listened to it … all day. Round and round it went, as I experienced each new song several times throughout the day. While I am not here to exclaim that it is as good as their debut release from 1995, I would suggest any fan of Jars of Clay over their long career should have a listen. And with the more recent album releases seemingly being cut short of music, I was pleased to see this one was almost an hour long!
Later in the day I read the promo material that came with the album. “It’s a big, lush, confident, gutsy, sound…” describes well my initial response to the music. “Jars of Clay … expands on the musical palette developed for its last project, Good Monsters: driving songs with more synth, beats and loops, but keeping its hard-won appreciation for rock guitars intact.” I agree.
The influence and experience of Ron Aniello (Guster, Lifehouse, Leigh Nash), who shared the production tasks with the Jars boys, comes out in the layers of voice and instrumentation throughout the album. Jars are not settled to keep the same sound that has made them popular in the past. In fact, I noted one or two of the songs did not even sound like Jars at first. There is something for everyone. Rock ballad. Pop. A little bit of techno. Something edgy. And the lyrical theme I caught onto right away was relationships. Who can’t relate to that?
I don’t want to steal the thunder of an in-depth review Janet promised during her GMA experiences in Nashville. As I said, it still does not beat their first album. Yet it does bring in a bit of fresh air into an otherwise hum drum collection of new music out there.