After releasing three widely acclaimed discs and receiving a plethora of awards and accolades, Jars of Clay return to their roots on The Eleventh Hour, revisiting the guitar-driven pop formula that launched their careers. ... more »Gone is the experimentation of If I Left the Zoo, replaced with more direct approaches, like the pounding rock of "Revolution" and the acerbity of "Whatever She Wants." Matt Odmark's fine guitar work and Dan Haseltine's Everyman vocals resonate with gut-wrenching soul searching and joyous redemption, as the haunting doubts of "Silence" are answered by the hope of the closing "The Edge of Water." Once again, Jars of Clay have released an insightful masterpiece on the human spirit and those in-between days that define our struggle for faith, and it stands as a road marker for just how far these four talented lads have come. --Michael Lyttle« less
After releasing three widely acclaimed discs and receiving a plethora of awards and accolades, Jars of Clay return to their roots on The Eleventh Hour, revisiting the guitar-driven pop formula that launched their careers. Gone is the experimentation of If I Left the Zoo, replaced with more direct approaches, like the pounding rock of "Revolution" and the acerbity of "Whatever She Wants." Matt Odmark's fine guitar work and Dan Haseltine's Everyman vocals resonate with gut-wrenching soul searching and joyous redemption, as the haunting doubts of "Silence" are answered by the hope of the closing "The Edge of Water." Once again, Jars of Clay have released an insightful masterpiece on the human spirit and those in-between days that define our struggle for faith, and it stands as a road marker for just how far these four talented lads have come. --Michael Lyttle
Stuart Grant | Hobart, Tasmania, Australia | 03/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Moulded by expectations on their self-titled debut, restricted by a fleeting recording trip to England for Much Afraid, and misconstrued by production on If I Left the Zoo, Jars of Clay has been unable to express themselves this independently until The Eleventh Hour. Close to their best album so far it provides sheer promise for the future of this enchanting four-piece.It is encouraging for me to hear a Christian band expressing hardship within faith, which makes it disappointing to hear fellow reviewers attacking the lyrics of The Eleventh Hour. I find concerns about the lack of a direct Gospel message narrow-minded. I would say that Jars of Clay's ministry is not based on evangelism, but discipleship; not birth but growth, and this is as essential as foundational evangelism.Start and Finish: Disappear opens The Eleventh Hour with vintage Jars of Clay passion, while the album is concluded eloquently by The Edge of Water, an example of a thoroughly new direction for the group.Revolution: The same goes for Revolution, an early highlight and a great rock song - surrounded by Something Beautiful and Fly, both demonstrating Jars of Clay's continued focus on strong melody.Silence: Having read the lyrics to the powerful Silence prior to hearing the song I had high expectations, perhaps a song reminiscent of the exquisite Frail, from Much Afraid. This aching reflection on the inexplicable silence we can all face is a gutsy and poignant hinge-piece for the album.The Eleventh Hour: This mood of unease holds until the redemption of the title track, which also feels to me like a musical path yet untrodden by the group. Herein lies the mature message of salvation that Christians must be reminded of; the Gospel encapsulates hope as much as it shows grace, and this outstanding song provides a story of both."
A Beautiful Combination
Andrew W. Yates | Atlanta, GA USA | 03/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With "The Eleventh Hour" Jars of Clay seems to have found a way to combine the honest, almost transparent enthusiasm of their acoustically-dominated debut album with the depth and musical maturity found on their follow-up "Much Afraid" (which happens to be one of my favorite albums of all time). Their previous attempt at this combination, "If I Left the Zoo," appeared forced and artificially playful. Not so with this new album. From the very first track the album envelops you with both the feeling of wonder and the acute pop sensibility that make Jars of Clay so vital. "Revolution" displays a cool, urban vibe underscored with acoustic guitars in a way that only these guys can pull off (although I'm sure they could have found something better to say than "grab a hammer, bang a gong.") "Silence" is painfully honest and highlight's Dan Haseltine's distinctive voice. Perhaps the highlight of the album is the last track, "The Edge of Water," which shows how powerful a banjo can be.Some have criticized this album for being too ambiguous about its statement of faith; however, I think this album demonstrates how Jars of Clay is one of the few bands who can paint a picture of an honest faith journey and maintain their musical integrity. The lyrics explore situations and emotions that represent the broad range of human existence. Faith is not a bunch of much-repeated phrases and concepts, but rather a lens through which they explain their world. Once again, Jars of Clay demonstrates that the mixture of faith and serious musical talent can be quite a beautiful thing."
3 1/2-One of the few CCM bands I still Listen too
S. Alix | NYC | 03/19/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I've given up on Mainstream Christian Music. (The undrground stuff is better) After awhile I just got tired of the repeated lyrics and boring musical styles. Jars of Clay though, left quite an impression on me because of their Unserpassed MUCH AFRAID record. If you're new to the band I highly recommend that beautiful and haunting record. To get to my point, I always had a soft spot for JOC ever since that record and got their first and then third record. I love bands that change and evolve even if it means getting a few fans Teed off in the process. They weren't afraid to reach beyond their boundaries and even if you didn't like "If I left the Zoo" (A flawed but still great pop-rock record) you had to appreciate their honest face toward change and to move forward. They could have gone the easy route and stuck to strings and slow melodies, but then that would become stale and boring. This record is a sharp right, where IILTZ was a sharp left. It's the slower songs of MuchAfraid but without the strings, instead Dan relies on his voice to tell the stories for him. In the song "Silence" it's amazing to hear him sing louder and louder even till you hear a small scratch in his voice, it just send's chill's down your spine. Every song has it's own subtle hooks and riffs, but it takes repeated listens to find what makes each song so special. They aren't as obvious as ZOO, which is a good thing. The songs aren't as eclectic as MA but are still as honest. The lyrics are more poetic then ZOO but still aren't as good as MA. The dilemna in making a perfect record such as Much Afraid is they can never live up to it. Rather I truly appreciate this band for changing and being different every time. That is why they will always remain fresh and beautiful. This is a great record in the journey that is Jars of Clay."
A Must Have!
Seth P. | Tenn | 05/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In September 2001, the alternative pop/rock band Jars of Clay performed their first concert in over a year. The event served to foreshadow the group's March 2002 release The Eleventh Hour, an album heralded as comparable to the band's debut project. With this release, Jars of Clay -- composed of members Dan Haseltine, Matt Odmark, Charlie Lowell, and Stephen Mason -- held fast to the creative reins from start to finish. Serving as writers, producers, designers, and directors, the band was able to return to the vision which drove their self-titled debut. The result was a collection of 11 songs unlike any released from the band since their 1995 album. Musically, the project blends alternative rock and pop with elements of folk. Lyrically, it examines aspects of honesty and transparency, exploring human longing. The album opens with the edgy pop track "Disappear," a song expressing the difficulty people face in accepting the existence of unconditional love. Other notable tracks include the first radio single, "I Need You," a driving and passionate expression of a deep desire for God, and the tender yet haunting ballad "Scarlet." The Eleventh Hour is a much needed album from Jars of Clay. It is a return to the elements that drove the sudden success of the band in 1994 and 1995."
Well produced, great songwriting....another hit
President Wilson | THE PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF HUDSONVILLE, MI | 03/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jars of Clay, have once again produced a remarkable album. Several features distinguish this album from the racks of others out there.
1)Jars of Clay is musically diverse and The Eleventh Hour is a showcase for this diversity. No two songs sound alike...each has new surprises to offer.
2)It is well produced...the sound is superb.
3)The Eleventh Hour is limited to just over 40 minutes. Yup, you guessed it, Jars of Clay have refused to merely repeat the same "hook" over and over and over again...Jars of Clay have refused to incorporate weak tracks merely to fill the 80 minutes CD's can hold.
4)The lyrics. The lyrics are excellent. Jars of Clay have demonstrated the necessity of faith in daily living in these lyrics...EXCELLENT.
However, this album, in my opinion fails to reach the level of emotion that Much Afraid, or even the self titled album did. Yet, overall, a very beneficial investment. Just try and listen to "These Ordinary Days" and deny this."