As said in last week’s post, the 90s brought a new challenge to the old staples of Christian music, and with the exception of a few, it was evident they found it hard to adapt. But this new sound birthed a new wave of young artists who seemed to naturally speak this new language of artistic expression.
Jars of Clay was one of these artists.
Their self-titled debut was released about a month before DC Talk’s Jesus Freak (reviewed here last week), and though it lacked the grungy hard-rock edge of Jesus Freak, Jars of Clay impressed and attracted the mellow college-aged Gen-Xers who were looking for anything in the Christian genre a la Dave Matthews and others who were performing the new, artsy, acoustic coffeehouse-style and successfully attained the new vocal sound that came to define 90s music.
Jars of Clay was not only one of the few bands in this category at the time, which alone made them stand out, but they were top notch. Their hit single, “Flood” not only ‘made waves’ in the Christian pop/rock charts, but was also a crossover success. With that, they garnered the attention of secular acts such as Sting and Matchbox Twenty, with whom they toured and performed as opening acts. They also had a few songs that made it to the movies as well.
As mentioned, it is a mellow album, other than “Flood” and the electronic opener “Liquid” (I never noticed the only uptempo songs on the album were water reference until now). The album was just right for sipping lattes and doing homework. Having said that, Jars of Clay can get a bit sleepy by the time you’ve gotten halfway through it. Thankfully, “Flood” comes in to wake you up about halfway through Side 2. Regardless, though, there’s not a bad song on the bunch. It’s artistically excellent, which is why it caught the attention of secular audiences and artists and sold more than two million copies, earning double platinum status. Not bad for a debut.
Their following albums, though good and some would say even better than the first, never repeated the same commercial success. Their second album, Much Afraid hit the platinum mark, and the following three albums would hit Gold. But even though they may have peaked too soon as far as commercial success goes, for any band to be around 20 years is nothing to sneeze at. Longevity, in my opinion, is the true mark of a successful career.