Stacia A. from WOODSTOCK, MD Reviewed on 3/19/2012...
Excellent CD. Has some U2 leanings at times. Best CD by Jars of Clay since their debut album. Highly recommend!
Doug S. (Dstelt) from WISC RAPIDS, WI Reviewed on 3/14/2010...
Pretty good cd, these guys do it right and sound great doing it!
Their best album in years, minus a song or two.
Robert Hammond | Oshkosh, WI | 04/21/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Since going "indie", Christian festival staple Jars of Clay have been at work at a nearly impossible task: creating an artistic work that would also be appeasing to Christian markets. If it's too artistic, Christian radio won't pick it up, if it comes across as compromised or uninspired, people might wonder why they bothered leaving a major label in the first place, and lose interest.
After a third listen to Long Fall, I am happy to announce that Jars of Clay has made a pop record that quietly remolds their sound, continues their thought-provoking lyrics, and offers THE BEST melodies and arrangements of their career.
Good Monsters did not meet the expectations created by Haseltine when described it as a "rock record" (it was hyped as such by CCM Magazine, and then assumed by Dove and Christianity Today). It is a shame because GM was right on par for Jars- enjoyable pop combined with mellow lyrics- but they had done that before, and better, I think. On Long Fall, they have done what they did not completely achieve on Good Monsters: a new sound.
Dan Haseltine was wise not to fill the album with songs like "Headphones" and "Scenic Route". He, instead, paints them in the background of tunes like the worship-rock single "Two Hands". I've heard this was the last song written for this album. If it was, no doubt there was a commercial reason for this. Christian radio, after all, still needs a single. Though, I don't think Jars are at fault, this is still the market they are vying to keep, and who wouldn't have seen the same potential in the song?
My favorite track is "Weapons", which I've listened to more than the rest. "Lay your weapons down, there are no enemies in front of you". Not a cry to end the conflict in Iraq, but a cry in the wilderness for worldwide internal unity. I can't speak for Dan, but it would seem he had a specific group of prejudiced, militant people in mind when he wrote the song. Let us hope it is who I think it is.
A couple of songs ("Heaven" and "Scenic Route") are an homage to The Arcade Fire (the mandolin gives it away), and Ra Ra Riot's The Rhumb Line had a strong influence on "Weapons". The direction they are choosing as independent artists is definite and exciting. "Hero", featured on NBC series "Kings", highlights Dan's excellent use of falsetto, and has huge potential as a single.
"Heart", the album's closer, is the most experimental track on the album, and probably the most personal tune on the record. Sprinkled with loops, a plethora of instruments, and a short verse/chorus/turnaround progression . . . the most beautiful lyric on the album: "No mountains to climb, papers to sign, offer your heart, I've given you mine". The melody is simple and the lyrics cover a huge scope. I think this might be a metaphor for the music that they are hoping to create, and mission statement for the band's future.
Over their career, Jars of Clay have played countless cities, had top 40 success, and have toured relentlessly throughout. Now, they don't need to prove anything, they don't need the 5 album record label contract. They just want to give you their best, which is what they did on this album."
Another surprise direction
Da BrandoChipper | 04/21/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"How does a band top a cd as excellent as 2006's Good Monsters? Answer: Dont even try. The new release from Jars of Clay is so different from their last release, that it avoids comparison. At this point, I still like Good Monsters a tad better, but it doesnt matter. This new cd stands very well on its own and I really look forward to hearing many of these tracks live.
Back in 1995, I started listening to Jars of Clay to get away from produced sounding pop music. Its interesting that Jars new release is exactly that: highly produced yet sophisticated pop music. You can definitely hear a lot of the studio noises, beeps, and toys, but Jars integrity and soul always shines through. There are some fist waving anthems that urge us to crank the volume up (Weapons and Heaven) and there are tender moments that make us stop and contemplate our relationship to the ones we love and to the world around us (Safe to Land and Headphones). More than any other Jars cd, I can imagine many of these songs on mainstream radio. True, the music is more mainstream than anything they have done before, but Jars manages to pull your mind and soul into the music much more than average pop music. I guess Im saying this to combat any who may accuse them of "selling out". They may be using radio friendly pop music as a medium, but the Jars of Clay stamp is definitely here in abundance.
I only have a couple of very minor complaints. For one, I find that the song Hero is about a minute and a half too long. There are only two verses and both verses are completed 90 seconds into the song, yet the song is almost 5 minutes long. The chorus is repeated so many times that the song almost wears out its welcome. Its a good rock song, I just wish that there was either one more verse or it was a shorter song. Intitially, I thought "There Might Be A Light" should have been the closing song. But the more I lsten to "Heart", the more I realize Jars made the right decision. "Heart" is a wonderful quirky song that mixes many of Jars' trademark elements under an umbrella of electronica and seems to intimately tie together many of the themes explored on this album. The guitar line in "Heart" seems to hearken back to "Frail" from the "Much Afraid" album, and it really does seem like a modernized sequal to that song. In a spot or two on this album, the lyrics get a tad cheesy (an unreachable itch, if you hemorrhage I'll stitch) but top to bottom the lyrics are heartfelt,poignant, and often powerful. Case in point: Boys (Lesson One) is a powerful and quiet father to son ballad...FAR superior to Scott Stapp's generic and overblown "Arms Wide Open". This contains my favorite lyric on the entire album "Its too far to walk, but you dont have to run to get there in time." Dan Haseltine often cleverly uses contradiction to make things seem mysteriously clear.
Im glad to see Jars of Clay refuses to stay in one place musically. They force their fans to remain open to new styles and they seem quite adept at just about anything they try. The Long Fall Back to Earth is a welcome edition to the current musical landscape. I have been a U2 fan for 25 years and they have also released a cd this year which received a ton of hype. But, and I might get eggs thrown at me for saying this, Jars of Clay has outdone U2 this time around."
snoogins4life | 04/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the Christian rock groups active today, few have had the constant success of Jars of Clay. I have been a fan of theirs since I was given "Much Afraid" as a gift for my 17th birthday. I was not aware of them prior to that. I have been madly in love with their music since the day I received that album. It still contains my favorite song from them, "Frail".
Since that time I have eagerly anticipated each album and found that each album was very different from the last but still remained true to the group as a whole. Dan's beautiful and rich lyrics bring each and every song a layer of emotion that is sore lacking in so much music in today's world. Charlie, Matt and Stevens ability to flow with each song instrumentally is another reason each and every album is so fantastic. From the stripped down sounds of their self titled album, to the polished pop of "The Eleventh Hour" and then to the soulful organic sounds of "Who We Are Instead" and even beyond to the world/new age tapestry of "Good Monsters", no group has been able to consistently release fantastic albums so consecutively.
And, no group has been able to use a musical format over again for another album yet still make said album a reinvention. Yet, here we are with "The Long Fall Back To Earth" an album that for me harkens back to the sounds of "If I Left The Zoo" and "The Eleventh Hour" with a flair of "Good Monsters", but it still sounds new and joyously refreshing. I have seen Jars 7 times in concert and have experienced magical moments from unplanned events. At a concert in Virginia several years ago, a horrible storm hit during their set, and instead of stopping they unplugged the electronics got out the acoustic guitar and performed "Frail","Silence" and "Worlds Apart" until the rain stopped and it was safe to plug in again. The first track on the album reminds me of that. "The Long Fall" feels like an unplanned just made instrumental ditty to pass time, but in a fantastically good way. It is only the starting point of a perfect album.
So many years and so many albums have come out of Jars and I'm amazed at how much I'm still moved by them. "Weapons" is a powerful rock song crying out for enemies to lay down their guns, fists, hateful words and mean comments and see that we are not each others enemy, we are all brothers and sisters. The first single from the album "Two Hands" is a fav of mine talking about not letting the good things in life pass you by due to all you think you need to do. "If I had two hands, doing the same thing...lifted high...lifted high" is such a powerful lyric. "Heaven" is a great song talking about the masks we wear in our everyday life, and reminder that being our true selfs will get us farther. "Closer" is a powerful cry for love either from one human to another or from a human to their higher power. "Safe To Land" my second favorite song on the album reminds me greatly of "Portrait for an Apology" from "Much Afraid" in that it is simply a song about asking for forgiveness from someone we've hurt. "Headphones" is such a great song, it is a very calm and quiet song yet it's lyrics cry out to us, saying take off your headphones (or all the material things) and pay attention to the ones you love and communicate. "Don't Stop" is so so SO catchy, I've been humming it's lyrics all day "Ba Baba Ba Ba Ba BaBa...don't stop, don't stop for me now." The song is a straight forward love song. Now comes my favorite song on the album "Boys (Lesson One)" is a prayer from a father to his son, asking for him to never forget who he is, or what he wants out of life, but to make sure he realizes the right ways to get there and not to hurry and not enjoy life. It is such a beautiful song with such powerful lyrics. "So you know who you are, and you know what you want, I've been where your going and it's not that far. It's too far to walk but you don't have to run, you'll get there in time." Wow. The next song "Hero" is another fav for me, it speaks of wanting and needing a hero to help change the way the world is going, to help us see what we're doing to save us from ourselves. "Scenic Route" is such a sad song to me, it talks of a relationship coming to an end and how the singer wishes to take the "scenic route" or take longer to keep the pain from being so sharp. It's heart wrenching. Yet the next song is the polar opposite, "There Might Be A Light" reminds me of the movie "Say Anything", just put the words to this song in place of the one he plays outside her window and you'll see what I mean. "Forgive Me" is just that a song asking for forgiveness, and then we have my other favorite and the last song on the album "Heart". This is such a powerful song, asking someone for their love, and letting them know that they already have his. It's a beautiful song, and a perfect ending to such a fantastic album.
Fourteen years ago, Jars came on the seen and in all those years they have constantly won me over with their heart felt lyrics, their infectious sounds and with their messages of hope and love. If your a fan of Christian pop this is an album to get, and get some of their others that I've mentioned. Their music is not in your face christian in that they don't speak directly about Jesus or God, but they are faith filled and spiritual. A must listen."
Jars of Clay [The Long Fall Back To Earth]
Kevin R. Davis | Perkasie, PA | 04/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jars of Clay has built an extraordinary career based on the uncompromising integrity of its music, worldview, and humanitarianism. Jars of Clay's last album, Good Monsters, was my favorite Jars of Clay album since the amazing self-titled debut. That album managed to reinvent the band's sound while tackling subjects as diverse and demanding as social responsibility, spiritual doubt and the duality of the human heart. Now, three years later, Jars of Clay returns with The Long Fall Back To Earth. The album's first single, "Two Hands," builds on the duality theme from "Good Monsters." Haseltine's lyrics observe, "I use one hand to pull you closer / The other to push you away," before going on to suggest that this internal conflict can be overcome with a simple, but profound course of action: "Two hands doing the same thing / Lifted high." According to Dan Haseltine: "`Two Hands' was the last song we wrote for the record. We'd been trying to find a way to try to connect all the various themes of the album--relationships, faith, social justice--with one unifying anthem."
That desire to connect is the primary theme of The Long Fall Back To Earth and nowhere is it more explicitly stated than in "Closer," the first song recorded for the record. When Haseltine sings "I'll drop out of the race for more personal space / `Cause the rockets we're in get so cold, and I miss your skin," he's never sounded more direct or personal. One of the last songs written for the record is the instrumental opener "The Long Fall," which gently introduces the theme of the record before giving way to the marching wake-up call of the song "Weapons."
This is the most amazing album I've heard in the past year and ranks right with Third Day's Revelation last year. Jars of Clay has managed to channel the best of themselves, almost unanimously agreed to be the self-titled debut album and give fans what they've come to expect with anthems like "Weapons," "Two Hands," "Safe To Land" and "Heaven," the stand-out songs for me. However similar to Third Day, they've also mixed up their sound and pulled out all of the stops with inventive new electronic songs like the instrumental opener "The Long Fall," "Closer," "Don't Stop," "Boys (Lesson One)" and the closing song "Heart." I immediately replayed the songs "Hero" and "Scenic Route," which are both amazing instrumentally and lyrically.
I'll be measuring all other albums this year against "The Long Fall To Earth". Whether you are a long-time fan of Jars of Clay or have recently discovered them, you won't be disappointed with this album which for me is a 5 star masterpiece."
The thrill is gone...
Jori Page | Chicago | 09/28/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a fan of Jars of Clay since the release of the debut album. They are one of my all-time favorite bands. I have anxiously awaited every new release -- and have loved most. I have seen the band several times in concert -- have even met the guys backstage. My favorite CDs are the debut album, Who We Are Instead, Redemption Songs, and Good Monsters.
Unfortunately, this new CD does very little for me. I can't quite put my finger on it. I can honestly say that if I never heard this CD again, I wouldn't feel like I was missing anything. I wouldn't say that about any other Jars of Clay CD.
First, I'm not sure that Jars of Clay is always making musical choices that are in the best interest of the song. Often, they seem to be making production choices with the aim of being diffent or running against the grain. Variety is a nice thing -- but what exactly is the band's style these days? This album sorely lacks anything resembling a cohesive "feel".
Dan Haseltine used to be a poet who wrote song lyrics. On this album, he just writes song lyrics. There a depth missing that used to pervade the songs. "If I had two hands doing the same thing. Lifted high"? Egads. These are lyrics to suit a pop artifice. "Take my world apart - broken on my knees" - this is not.
Worst of all -- the album is rather boring. Jars of Clay used to produce songs that made me weep or smile -- songs that brought me closer to God -- songs that made me sing along in the car! There is something missing from these songs -- inspiration? Whatever it is, this is album is a disappointment.