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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)

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.[1]
  • BSOD Song: "Dead Man (Carry Me)".
  • Christian Rock
  • Concept Album/Cover Album: Redemption Songs. The concept under discussion being "redemption"; all the songs are hymns, some of them quite obscure.
  • 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).
  • Distinct Double Album: Furthermore: From the Studio, From the Stage.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener (and closer): "Frail".
  • Fan Vid: Someone made a video for "Mirrors and Smoke" using scenes from Superfriends and sent it to the band. Jars liked the video so much that they uploaded it to YouTube themselves.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: "Headphones".
  • In the Style Of: While an original song written by the band, "Mirrors & Smoke" featured a duet between Dan Haseltine and Leigh Nash meant to mimic the style of Johnny and June Carter Cash.
  • 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 Lineup: 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 Dissonance:
    • "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.
  • Must Have Caffeine: The live-show-exclusive "Coffee Song (Hot Coffee, Strong Coffee)".
  • New Sound Album: Every other album, more or less.
  • 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 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.
  • Rearrange the Song: They put the original multitracks from "Dead Man" on the web so anyone could make their own remixes.
    • 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.
  • Sad Clown: "Sad Clown". Duh.
  • Sesame Street Cred: This.
  • Silly Love Songs: "Mirrors and Smoke" is somewhere between this and Obsession Song.
  • The Something Song: The album Redemption Songs. Also Christmas Songs.
  • Stunt Casting: The numerous featured vocalists on The Shelter can appear to be this at first glance. Many are big names in Christian music; others are labelmates.
    • Arguably, getting Adrian Belew to produce two songs on their first album.
  • Unplugged Version: Their "From the Studio" disc consisted of unplugged versions of prior tracks.
  • While Rome Burns: The aforementioned "Goodbye, Goodnight".
  • You Are Not Alone: "He", from Jars of Clay. (the 'He', of course, referring to God.)
    • "Even Angels Cry" from Good Monsters.

Notes

  1. Word of God is that it's from the perspective of the musicians who played aboard the Titanic as it went down. Really.
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