Jars Of Clay
Much Afraid


4.0
excellent

Review

by rayraypine USER (2 Reviews)
March 5th, 2014 | 12 replies


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Emboldened by success, Jars of Clay break out the electric guitars and reinvent themselves.

Jars of Clay’s self-titled release is a classic of the Christian rock genre. Steeped in rich harmonies, lush acoustic guitar, and electronic loops, Jars did something that no other Christian rock band had been able to in recent years; make the genre mainstream. “Flood,” found a mainstream audience and held them captive… and while most die-hard Jars fans have come to dislike the song, it single-handedly launched what is now a twenty year career in music for these boys from Greenville College (and helped propel several other artists into the limelight).

When crafting the songs for their follow-up, Much Afraid, Dan Haseltine set out to create an album that would endure. He wanted the album to have a classic feeling to it, one that would stand the test of time and shirk the “dated” sound of many 90’s albums. It seems ironic, looking back on it, that Jars reached back into their original demo to rework two songs for this album, “Fade to Gray” and “Frail.” So how did it go?

Jars of Clay unknowingly (or quite wittingly!) set the blueprint for their ever changing sound with Much Afraid. From the opening track “Overjoyed” that explodes with their first use of electric guitar, to the melancholic and orchestrated sounds of set-list staple and fan favorite, “Frail,” Jars not only managed a fantastic second album… but an album that could stand on its own two legs. Much Afraid forgoes the overt Christian theme of their S/T and sees the band moving toward the more secular message that they would embrace over much of their career.

The heavier emphasis on electric guitar though does not translate into more straight ahead rock. The album dips and curves through the somber (the aforementioned “Frail”), the atmospheric (“Weighed Down”) and contemplative praise (“Much Afraid”). Jars of Clay manage to convey the emotional distress of humanity while also allowing for a light at the end of the tunnel all the while rarely outright mentioning Jesus. (the exceptions being the title track and “Hymn”)

There are a few tunes that recall where Jars had been. “Portrait of an Apology,” wouldn’t feel too out place on their first release and while “Tea and Sympathy” has a sneaky electric, when stripped to the bone, it could fit right next to a song like “He.” The signature harmonies are still alive (best experienced in a live setting) and the keyboards fill out the sound with a heavy handed depth, making the Toad the Wet Sprocket influence a little less obvious then it appeared on their first album.

While the dark and brooding “Frail” is often seen as their crowning achievement, it would be hard to ignore the slow burner turned uptempo acoustic rocker,“Truce.” Bringing back drum loops and melodic keyboard work, the song feels like it may sit in the pocket, drawing out slowly over the course of its 3:11. Instead, it opens up on a tom hit to a fast paced strummed acoustic that allows for some of the more interesting electric guitar work of the album near the close. The song is a great connection to Jars of Clay past and present at this point with the dark mood, the acoustic and the electric.

While Much Afraid failed to measure up to their self-titled album record sales, through experimentation and creativity, it managed to not only find an audience at the time, but has endured quite wel, capturing a bit of that “timeless” feel Dan was aiming for and a high seat at the table for Jars of Clay fans.


user ratings (53)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
rayraypine
March 5th 2014


106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My first review--any feedback appreciated :-) I throught it a shame that this album didn't have a review so... her eit is.

Emim
March 5th 2014


29764 Comments


Much scared very fear wow

BigHans
March 5th 2014


30956 Comments


This is Mimsys jam

Snake.
March 5th 2014


22687 Comments


dammit emim you beat me to it

Emim
March 5th 2014


29764 Comments


God squad and all that.


Their first album is top though

BigHans
March 5th 2014


30956 Comments


Lift Me Up

When Im Falling

#SputnikGodSquad4Life

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
March 6th 2014


4491 Comments


Hey - welcome to Sputnik! Since no one's offered thus far, I'll give some feedback:

First of all, great to see you didn't fall into the track-by-track trap. You talk about the album's elements instead of going track by track by track, and that's really good. What's more, you have a firm grasp of English (and, believe me, not everyone does). Those two factors translate into a really solid first review pretty much automatically. That said, here are some things I notice about the review:

You don't need to make a full new paragraph for "So how did it go?" There's no reason you should break up the flow of your review for a single-sentence paragraph unless that one sentence is really important. Here's an example of a review which uses the short-paragraph well: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/42855/Foo-Fighters-Wasting-Light/

See what I mean? The review I linked changes up the flow of its course with that paragraph, unlike yours. Again, it's not a horrible thing, but it's something to keep in mind.

Also, your summary has a typo - might want to fix that! ;]

That being said, this is a really solid first review. You'll hone your voice through writing more, but this is a really promising start - have a pos! Looking forward to seeing you around the site, and if you ever want some more criticism feel free to shoutbox me.

Necrotica
March 6th 2014


10693 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Reminds me of my Dc Talk review



#GodSquad

pacedown
March 6th 2014


186 Comments


'christian rock band members hair-cut'

decent cut

rayraypine
March 6th 2014


106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the feedback! :-)



I updated the summary and squished "So how did it go" into the prior paragraph.



I think the problem I have with my own review is that I don't feel like I sell the album as a 4.0 that well... that'll be something to work on

Get Low
October 29th 2020


9221 Comments


This is a big ol' step down from their self-titled, and I'm sure everything they did from hereon after isn't any better.

Emim
October 29th 2020


29764 Comments


Their debut is tops, but haven't really dug much outside of that.



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