The liner notes forRedemption Songs state, "You have in your hands a collection of VERY OLD WORDS set to almost completely MODERN MUSIC. The music comes for a place of TRUE REVERENCE and appreciation for the RICHNESS OF OUR PAST and an attempt to leap across YEARS and articulate that past in a language that could be EMBRACED by us as 21st century people of faith."
That pretty much sums up this Jars of Clay project. Dan Haseltine's familiar voice reverently shares classic songs of the past, many of them familiar to those of us who grew up with hardcover church hymnals in the days before projectors took over. I liked this CD the first time I listened to it, and I think I've grown to like it more each time I hear it again. The music is sometimes quite true to the original tune, and sometimes quite new, but the message stays the same. From classic hymns like I Need Thee Every Hour, Nothing But The Blood and It is Well With My Soul to more chorus-style songs like They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love, the music is tasteful and the lyrics make a clear statement.
One of the standouts is I'll Fly Away. Rather than the usual fast-paced bluegrass sound, Haseltine performs in a contemplative style accompanied by Sarah Kelly, whose bluesy vocals add the perfect touch. Other guest artists include The Blind Boys of Alabama, Martin Smith of Delirious and Andy Osenga of Caedmon's Call.
My only complaint is that the bird on the cover art reminds me of the Partridge Family, which in no way portends the style of music found on this excellent CD. Still, it did make me happy (if you understood that allusion you're either old, or you watch too much Nickelodeon).
Visit: Jars of Clay and Essential Records.