Starting a review with a simple directive to “Go buy this CD” may seem a bit brash, but after listening to Jars of Clay’s most recent offering, those four words best describe our feelings. Since 1995, Jars of Clay has successfully been producing CDs, popular both in Christian and secular circles. The unexpected breakout hit Flood, as the band explained in an exclusive iTunes interview, has allowed the band to continue to make music where other bands have had to stop. Eleven years after Flood became a cross-over sensation, Jars of Clay returns with a CD that many are hailing as its career defining work.
Good Monsters is a musical journey in which Jars of Clay takes the listener through questions of faith and causes of doubt, the lack of action that sometimes follows belief, the real meaning of mortality, and the need to help others. All of this is done with music that ranges from 80s pop, to blue grass and to driving rock.
Good Monsters begins with Work, a dance-friendly rock song. Don’t let the beat mislead you; the words go straight to the heart. The second song on the CD, Dead Man (Carry Me) continues the catchy and radio friendly rock feel with solid lyrics.
It don’t matter where you bury me / I’ll be home and I’ll be free / It don’t matter where I am / All my tears be washed away
Writing a review often involves highlighting a few songs because most good CDs only have a couple of great songs, and depending on the CD, maybe only a few good songs. This CD is different. Every song has the potential to be a hit. Every song drives home a message. Every song has meaning. Every song is compelling.
The song Mirrors & Smoke is a Johnny and June Cash-inspired tune on which Leigh Nash, formerly of Sixpence None the Richer, adds vocals. With a driving guitar and a gritty rock sound, this song stands out as a near career highlight for the band.
The show stopper on the CD is Oh My God. Many reviewers, praising Good Monsters as the Album of the Year are anointing this song, Song of the Year. After listening to it, we agree. It’s both haunting and inspiring. The song is simple, almost too simple, yet ends with a powerful call to God, in the manner of David or Job, listing causes of doubt in the world.
One last bit of advice when purchasing this CD. Listen to it several times through before making a final judgment. The CD gets better with every listen. Like Jars of Clay, this CD--and every song on it--gets better with time.