CD Review: Good Monsters by Jars of Clay

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Jars of Clay, Good Monsters

I have no fear of drowning, it’s the breathing that’s taking all this work

~ Work – Jars of Clay

While this is not a music page, I decided this weekend that I’d had enough of my current music collection and went on a binge, buying 7 CD’s, though one is an early Christmas gift for a friend. Included in my purchase was the newest CD by Jars of Clay, entitled Good Monsters.

The CD is an eclectic mix of rock-styled music and mellower tracks, one track featuring Leigh Nash, another an African choir. Several of their songs have already reached my heart, despite the brief time I’ve had them, and in perusing their website, I have come to understand that they don’t want to put the full explanation to their tracks online, just to say its a feeling from a particular moment. I have my own theories behind Good Monsters, despite it being about “figuring out how to reconcile one with the other. It‚’s about finding the good within the monster.” I believe they have been deeply influenced by their work with Blood Water Mission in Africa, and some of their songs are a direct response to the issues that have come out of it. Why else would a song such as Light Gives Heat speak so vehemently about the results of aide reaching out to Africa. The whole song reflects the good intentions and often poor results that come out of a willing yet misplaced heart. Perhaps this is the good monster in all of us.

I’ve always loved the way Jars of Clay has been able to wear their hearts on their sleeve in their music. Whether its been the song Worlds Apart from their debut CD, Shades of Grey from their follow-up album Much Afraid, River Constantine from If I Left the Zoo, I Need You from The Eleventh Hour, or Jealous Kind from Who We Are Instead, Jars of Clay has always left me with a song that spoke directly to my heart and left me feeling as though I must listen to the song over and over again. These songs are not always easy to mean, but I often use them to challenge my own heart as I sing along. On their new album this song is Oh My God, which is about people who “all have their reasons for crying out to God ” according to their website. This song lists questions that ask us to questions our complacency and our own hearts. It sets everyone into the same category, we are all seekers of God, whether we intend to or not. More importantly, it challenges us to honestly own up to our thoughts and prayers – sometimes nothing more than flare prayers as my pastor puts it. It’s not easy to sing along to, but often we need to go through the painful process of holding a mirror to our souls, and asking God to point us in the right direction.

If you are the type of person who loves Jars of Clay, and desires to have a new way to ask yourself questions, I suggest you buy the CD, or the tracks, and see how you honestly answer the questions they raise. You can get a sample of three tracks from their website. My favorite CD – the album I always go back to currently in my collection – is Who We Are Instead, and I’m not sure if this album will replace that in my CD changer. But what I do know is, so far, I keep coming back to the same track, and crying out along with the band:

Oh My God…

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