Overview 1 Sunny Days 2 Amazing Grace 3 Lonely People 4 Only Alive 5 Trouble Is 6 Faith Enough 7 Show You Love 8 Lesser Things 9 I'm In The Way 10 Jesus's Blood Never Failed Me Yet 11 Jealous Kind 12 Sing 13 My Heavenly
Record Label Provident-Integrity Distribution
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 5.14" Width: 5.62" Height: 0.39" Weight: 0.21 lbs.
Release Date Nov 4, 2003
Publisher PROVIDENT #130
ISBN 0012253723 EAN 0083061070922 UPC 083061070922
Challenging but Cohesive and Greatly Rewarding Feb 26, 2007
When Jars of Clay released their fifth studio album, Who We Are Instead, in November 2003, many fans initially dubbed it a return to the sound of their first album. They were wrong, and some of them later revised their opinion. This album is a mostly downbeat work that is challenging both lyrically and musically. At the same time, it could alienate many fans, but those who persist with it will find their efforts rewarding.
The album contains two songs that are arguably Jars of Clay's most optimistic lyrically. The band leads off with "Sunny Days," a song with mostly cheerful lyrics (even Jars' "sunny" songs always have some touch of melancholy in them), complete with an allusion to Sesame Street. At the midpoint of the album, "Show You Love" is almost as upbeat and was the album's first (and most successful) single. (It later was used in trailers for the 2004 film Spanglish.) "Sunny Days," however, is lyrically and musically the more impressive track.
The other eleven tracks are considerably more melancholic. Lyrically, they focus on themes standard to the band: human brokenness/frailty and the great distance between God's holiness and human sinfulness. "Trouble Is" contains the album title and neatly sums up the album's theme: "Man, the trouble is/We don't know who we are instead." The other songs generally explore this theme in a myriad of introspective ways -- as Jars of Clay did consistently through every album prior to their most recent album, Good Monsters. (Good Monsters keeps some of this emphasis but also takes the band in some new directions lyrically.)
While the lyrics are almost uniformly excellent, this album really stands out musically. This is not the acoustic musical journey of the band's much loved self-titled debut, nor is it a return to the sound of any other previous album. Rather, the album is chock full of slow, deliberately plodding songs that head the band in a folk/roots/blues/gospel/country direction. As such, it's challenging, and you may either love the music or hate it. If you want high-energy pop/rock, your one bone on this album is "I'm in the Way," a song so jarringly different musically from the remaining tracks that it should have been a b-side.
In all of this, the band reveals their musical influences. A cover of America's "Lonely People" makes the band's love for 1970s folk pop explicit if anyone somehow missed it in their previous albums. "Sunny Days" is lyrically and musically evocative of a typical Christine McVie tune from Fleetwood Mac's Mirage (1982) era. (The opening riff and the guitar and keyboard playing throughout are very Macish.) "I'm in the Way" sounds like a distant, much faster-paced relative of Toad the Wet Sprocket's "Good Intentions" from the early 1990s.
Regardless of their influences, Jars of Clay certainly do not lack ambition. The album's most complex and epic song, "Faith Enough," essentially is a "Worlds Apart" (a much-loved tune from their debut album) for the whole world as opposed to an individual. "Amazing Grace" steals the title of the classic hymn and provides a more melancholic take on the same subject matter. "Jealous Kind" examines a topic rarely (if ever before -- I cannot think of one instance) covered by contemporary Christian artists: God's jealous love for his people.
The latter two songs are graced by vocals from the always welcome Ashley Cleveland. There's a surprise, though: lead singer Dan Haseltine's vocals actually prove the equal of Cleveland's. Some Jars of Clay listeners have criticized Haseltine's voice as being childlike and too sweet. I think there's a smidgeon of truth to those complaints; while I like Haseltine's voice, it hasn't sounded in the past like he's stretched himself very much. That's not true on these two songs. It's amazing to hear Haseltine in his own way match Cleveland's formidable vocals. He, and not Cleveland, makes these two songs work. (Cleveland's presence is a bonus.) When he sings "You know I've been unfaithful/With lovers in lines" near the end of "Jealous Kind," it seems to come from a deep well within him and is wrenching.
How much you like Who We Are Instead may well depend on your musical tastes. Do you like a slower-paced album full of thoughtful lyrics that delves into a variety of musical genres but almost entirely avoids a pop/rock sound? If so, you may love this album. Personally speaking, I've found that while I don't listen to it regularly, I'm always amazed by how good it is when I do give it my attention. Lyrically and musically, it's nothing short of excellent.
Postscript: An early special edition of the album featured an extra disc with two additional songs and special internet features. The two songs are both very good to excellent, even though the first one, "Tonight," is labeled a B-side. "Tonight" is catchy and upbeat musically; since it fits in well musically with the rest of the album, it would have been a better choice for the album than "I'm in the Way." More significant is "Shipwrecked," a tale of a life on the rocks that could have been sappy but surprisingly is moving. Even though it sounds like a demo, it should have been on the album.
Very good, with a few glitches Dec 5, 2006
First of all I have to say Ive listened to this cd many many times over the last 3 years. I enjoy and respect Jars venture into the more bluesy and earthy sound on this disc. They seem comfortable with it, and for the most part, they are successful with it. Two songs on this cd stand out as two of the best songs they ever wrote...Faith Enough and Jealous Kind. Both songs are moving, honest, and challenging. On Jealous Kind, Dan Haseltine proves that, despite the fact he doesnt have an earth shattering voice, he knows HOW to sing. It is a powerful song, but he doesnt oversing. He uses brilliant restraint in his delivery and lets loose at the end. The listener cant help but ache with him. A beatiful performance by him and the rest of the band. My complaint with this cd is that there are 3 or 4 songs that just dont seem finished. "Show You Love" is one those songs. The chorus goes "I'm gonna show you love in every language" and thats basically all the song says, the idea is just repeated over and over in slightly different ways. There just needed to be more lyrically to flesh out the song, but as it is, its just very good sounding filler. Stellar performances by Matt, Charlie, Steve, Aaron, and the drummer (Ben I think)keep the song from being a complete throw away. Another song that needs a little work is "I'm In The Way". The idea seems to be that the singer knows someone who he realizes he needs to allow to fail in order for that person to learn and grow. But all the lyrics to the song are over in the first 65 seconds(with another minute or so of repetition) and that includes the first 15 seconds of music intro at the beginning. It just seems like they had a good idea for this song, but the idea wasnt completed; it just sounds rushed. "Sing" is another song that flirts a tad with being a bit fluffy, though not quite to the extent of the other two. Some have complained a bit about "Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet". This sing is very repetitive (same 2 lines over and over) but on this song the repetition is intentional and for some reason it works. The instrumentation on this song is perfectly done and the 2 lines Dan sings become more and more infectious. It really gets under your skin and its hard not to be singing along by the end. I really do thoroughly enjoy this cd, but I believe the points I made should cost it 2 stars. I have however gotten my moneys worth...and then some. Its 3 years since the release, and Jars certainly nailed it this time with "Good Monsters"...a true 5 star masterpiece.
Top Knotch Album Jul 6, 2006
These guys are really, really good musicians, plus, they love Our Savior! Saw them in concert this year for the first time and would love to see them again. Some very moving songs here; a terrific listen!
Best work behind them??? Jun 23, 2006
This album was a disappointment..I judge good music on how often I find myself going back to listen to it. Quite frankly this album just doesn't have the songs to keep you hooked..There are 4 good songs on this disc which I suppose is okay considering the "one hit" wonders out there. Sunny Days, Trouble Is, Show You Love and I'm in the Way are all good songs. The rest of the music detracts from them..One of the other reviewers commented that the return to "root" and folk music made the album good. I think it made it ridiculous. After all, these are 4 white guys who, from the best I can tell,were not born in the bayou!! Anyway, Jars first album was by far the best. Each album has had a few good songs which keeps fans coming back but they need to seriously stop doing the "bluesy" stuff and return to their former style. Half a star for each "good" song!
I play this album OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER... Jun 23, 2006
This album just has a way with speaking to me about Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If you haven't listened to it, I highly recommend that you do. You will not be disappointed. It's that plain and simple. May you enjoy the sweet, gentle journey in God's grace and mercy!