The Essential Jars of Clay
Since their debut in 1995, Jars of Clay has zigzagged across the pop music spectrum while remaining true to their Christian vision. The Essential Jars of Clay maps out their journey with an eye towards side projects as well as major statements. The first 18 tracks do a good job following the band’s progress from acoustic folk-rock (“Flood,” “Tea and Sympathy”) into more mainstream pop terrain (“Unforgettable You,” “Fly”). Also evident is the broadening of JoC’s lyric reach from the interior musings of “Worlds Apart” to the more sweeping perspective of “Revolution.” If anything, the stylistic shifts featured in the second 16 tracks are even more interesting. Tracks like “Needful Hands,” Work,” and “Dead Man (Carry Me)” give a sense of how diverse the band’s sound had grown over time. Worth special notice are more obscure tracks like the pensive “The Widowing Field” (from the soundtrack to When We Were Soldiers) and the billowy “Bethlehem Town” (from the multi-artist City on a Hill project). Overall this anthology lives up to its title in capturing Jars of Clay’s eclectic essence.