Jars Of Clay is an American Christian rock band from Nashville, Tennessee, originally formed in 1993 at Greenville College in Illinois. It consists of Dan Haseltine as lead singer, Charlie Lowell on keyboards, Stephen Mason on lead guitars and Matthew Odmark on rhythm guitars.To date, the group has released 10 full-length albums:
Jars of Clay (1995)
Much Afraid (1997)
If I Left the Zoo (1999)
The Eleventh Hour (2002)
Who We Are Instead (2003)
Redemption Songs (2005)
Good Monsters (2006)
Christmas Songs (2007)
The Long Fall Back to Earth (2009)
The Shelter (2010)
A non-exhaustive list of other works includes:
Frail (independent demo, 1994)
Drummer Boy (Christmas EP, 1995)
Stringtown (live album, 1999)
The White Elephant Sessions (B-sides & demos collection, 2000)
Furthermore: From the Studio, from the Stage (acoustic/live double album, 2003)
Greatest Hits (2008)
Live at Gray Matters, Volumes I-IV (2010)
Inlandia (Remix collection, 2014)
20 (New recordings of fan-picked songs, 2014)
Tropes that apply to Jars Of Clay include:
Album Title Drop: Although most of their albums (the Self-Titled Album excepting) have title tracks, The Long Fall Back To Earth (even though it has a title track that contains the lyrics and serves as an intro) also drops the title rather beautifully in Safe To Land:
Is it safe/is it safe to land?
'cause the long fall back to earth is the hardest part
All There in the Manual: Go listen to "Goodbye, Goodnight" (or just look up the lyrics) and try to guess what the song's about.note Word of God is that it's from the perspective of the musicians who played aboard the Titanic as it went down. Really.
Always Chaotic Evil: Averted in "Good Monsters". "Not all monsters are bad, but the ones that are good never do what they could."
Canon Discontinuity: Of a sort with The Shelter. The band hasn't completely disowned the album or even shown signs of being dissatisfied with it per se, but since it began life as more of a "various artists" collaboration that ended up becoming more of a "Jars of Clay with special guests" project somewhere along the way, they seem to put it in a different category than their other studio albums. It was noticeably missing from the 20 compilation and the accompanying series of acoustic webcasts that the band did on StageIt in 2014.
20 and the StageIt series are huge aversions to Canon Discontinuity overall, as the band dusted off old songs for these projects that they hadn't played in ages, devoting themselves to one album from their discography per month. For a long while before that, Much Afraid and If I Left the Zoo were almost completely ignored in a lot of their setlists, with "Crazy Times" being the obligatory exception for a while, and "Frail" making a comeback much later on.
Cut Himself Shaving: Mentioned in "He", a song about child abuse: "And they think I fell down again".
Cut Song: Aside from the numerous B-sides, there's "Five Candles (You Were There)" which appeared on Much Afraid: it was written for the film Liar Liar and would have played over the credits, but was removed in favor of some Hilarious Outtakes.
"Fly Farther" was also an outtake from Much Afraid, played at some shows preceding the album's release. It reportedly didn't fit the flow of the album (which was already heavy on down-tempo material).
Getting Crap Past the Radar: A whole lot of Christian radio stations played "Heaven" without the slightest clue what it was really about. (To be fair, Dan wasn't trying to be sneaky with the lyrics, he just felt that it was a beautiful metaphor to describe something that most Christians are embarrassed to discuss directly.)
Greatest Hits, compiled by Essential Records in 2008, was more of a traditional best-of collection, focusing mostly on their radio singles, but also including the fan favorite "Worlds Apart" (which was never officially a single) and the new song "Love Is the Protest".
Leave the Camera Running: The Hidden Track on Jars of Clay. Jars wanted to take advantage of the longer playing time of the CD format, but only had about 40 minutes of music. So the album ends with an unlisted eleventh song "Four Seven", and then a random assortment of rehearsal snippet from the string section heard in "Blind" and studio chatter — 30 minutes' worth.
Long Runner Line Up: The core of the group has been Dan, Steve, Charlie, and Matt (the other Matt, that is) for a decade and a half now. Interestingly, the group has never employed a permanent drummer or bass player - positions that often experience the most turnover in your average rock band.
Lyrical Cold Open: Plenty of examples, but "Tea and Sympathy" is perhaps most notable for placing one right after the Lyrical Cold Ending of "Fade to Grey".
"He" from their debut album has a major-key melody, which is normally thought to invoke a more cheerful, Lighter and Softer mood...until you listen to the lyrics and realize the song's about a boy that's being physically and emotionally abused by his parents.
Their take on "They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love" is quite somber, possibly suggesting that we've failed to live up to the ideals expressed in the song. Being the last track on Redemption Songs, it can come across as a bit of a Downer Ending.
Their version of "It Is Well with My Soul" seems awfully upbeat and happy, considering the circumstances under which the hymn was written.
Mighty Whitey: "Light Gives Heat" is the rare song from a Christian perspective which acknowledges that sometimes missionaries can hurt more than they help.
One-Hit Wonder: Lots of hits on Christian radio, but according to the mainstream, they did next to nothing after "Flood".
The Oner: The video for "Work": an uninterrupted shot of the band performing... in a room filling with water.
The Pete Best: Matt Bronleewe was on their debut EP, but stayed behind to finish school while the others (adding Matt Odmark) took the record deal and released Jars ofClay. His career hasn't exactly tanked, though—he's still well-known as a producer and even has a couple of books out. He even started a synth pop band, The Hawk In Paris, with Dan Haseltine in 2011.
The Pig Pen: In the Good Monsters album art: the whole band is wearing grimy monster costumes, with their faces and hair completely covered in dirt.
They also released an EP (entitled 'Closer') that served as a preview to The Long Fall Back To Earth and brought back a couple of the well-known singles from their debut album and updated them In The Style Of their more recent work.
18 of the tracks on 20 are this as the band reinvents songs from throughout their history, sometimes making subtle changes (several tracks are done in an unplugged/acoustic format with string arrangements), and sometimes making drastic ones (such as the Mood Whiplash-inducing tempo changes in the new version of "God Will Lift Up Your Head").