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album review

Jars of Clay’s The Shelter a Community Effort

By Chris Carpenter
Programming Director

CBN.comReminiscent of the City on a Hill project from a decade ago, Jars of Clay’s latest release The Shelter, is a collaborative effort that brings many of today’s contemporary Christian music’s top names together to record songs about the importance of community.

Third Day’s Mac Powell, TobyMac, Brandon Heath, Tenth Avenue North’s Mike Donehey, and Amy Grant are just a few of the artists to lend support to Jars of Clay’s vision.

What's remarkable about Jars of Clay in recent years is that they have come to a place in their recording career where the collective voices of Dan Haseltine, Stephen Mason, Matt Odmark, and Charlie Lowell can take artistic chances. Amazingly, their musical instincts are usually spot on. Not afraid to share the microphone with others, they have certainly hit the mark with The Shelter.

Inspired by the Irish proverb, “It is in the shelter of each other that the people will live”, each of the albums’ 11 tracks reflect community as an aspect of shelter. What an incredible concept when considering the troubled times in which we live.

Highlighting The Shelter is the title track. Featuring the aforementioned proverb as the song’s centerpiece, newcomer Audrey Assad lends flourishing vocal touches to the hypnotic song and verse. The acoustic guitar driven piece also showcases TobyMac and Brandon Heath.

Atmospheric in its scope, “Run in the Night (Psalm 27)” is a haunting yet revealing heart’s cry to our creator for His protection in our weakness.

Another standout is “Small Rebellions”, which also features Heath. With a synth-fueled open similar to “The Long Fall” from 2007’s The Long Fall Back to Earth, the album’s opening track proclaims the fight against isolation through the idea of random acts of kindness. Kind of a revolutionary thought if you really think about it.

The Shelter’s ultimate strength lies not in its all-star cast or even stellar production. It is in the songwriting. Each and every song contains a penetrating spiritual truth that points the listener vertically toward worship.

This might be Jars of Clay's best album since their Grammy winner, The Eleventh Hour.

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