Jars Of Clay – The Eleventh Hour
March 5, 2002
What It Sounds Like: Contemporary 90s pop/rock from the poetic Dan Haseltine and crew. The electric guitars are turned up more on this record than the more predominant acoustic on past records, which makes its appeal to me even greater.
Jars Of Clay are a staple of the Christian music market, as well as having many singles cross over into the mainstream as well. They were a huge part of my teenage years, with this record certainly taking the cake for me, as it was released right before my sixteenth birthday. They invoke two awesome memories right off the bat:
1) Seeing them live at Creation 2004. It still stands in my mind as one of the best shows that I have ever seen in my life. The crowd, the ambiance; everything about it fit like a glove.
2) Picking up this record and hearing Fly for the first time. Beautiful. Haven’t you ever wanted to give yourself over like that?
The Eleventh Hour certainly attempts to be my favorite Jars Of Clay record. I really love Much Afraid and Who We Are Instead as well – but when listening to this record – it’s hard to think that it can be beat.
It kicks off with the ten out of ten track Disappear. It’s perfect in every way, but the lyrics are the sure-fire point of perfection. Don’t you just want to be inside that girl’s mind in the best way possible? Find out why she wants to run away when you know she wants to stay? Walk into her skin / swim through her veins / see it through her eyes?
Yeah, I’d really love to try.
Dan writes all across the board on this release, from explicitly Christian lyrics in to lead single I Need You, to uptempo “energize the crowd” numbers like Revolution, to the selfish love on Whatever She Wants and the future redemption of Scarlet. Beauty ensues on the slow burns of Silence and These Ordinary Days, which on the latter Dan sings about the time of life when the days start to run together, but as he knows – Your love can make these things better.
It’s not a perfect record – record closer The Edge Of Water has always been a very mediocre song for me, which on a record full of strength, simply comes as a surprising choice to close it all off. But the many positive steps make up for any slight miscues.
The Eleventh Hour also wins the award for one my favorite simple album covers. How many times have you seen a picture of the sun shining through a city skyline? Yes, many times, many times, I know. But this one has always knocked me flat. The angle. The color and tone with the pitch black edges. Even the typeface of the band’s name and record title. Everything is perfectly placed.
Plus, it was taken in Seattle, which only adds to the allure for me.
If you had to listen to two tracks: Disappear / Fly