jars of clay inlandReleased: 2013

Ask yourself this question… how many albums have you listened to that maintain one repetitive sound throughout the full-length duration? Those albums that fall into a single genre influenced rhythm and serve up samey, uninspiring songs that neither impact nor surprise you. It’s a musical cardinal sin and it’s so easily done, as many recent albums can attest to, but Jars of Clay could never be accused of short-changing listeners with lazy and predictable song writing. In fact, Inland delivers 12 impressive songs that effectively demonstrate what two decades of experience can provide – resulting in a very good album.

Packed with emotive keyboard melodies, a strong acoustic rhythm guitar and the heart and musical maturity you’d find with the likes of Snow Patrol and The Killers, Inland is easy pop-alternative rock listening at its best. As the band’s eleventh studio album, produced by Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Beth Orton), Inland marks Jars of Clay’s first independent release and you can feel the creative freedom seeping from one track to another.

Stand out songs include Age of Immature Mistakes with its Brandon Flowers undertones, the ambient Human Race, which has a wildly satisfying guitar section midway through, and Fall Asleep – the gentle piano song that somehow manages to avoid the hackneyed clichés that circle the ballad waters. The dirty-blues verses on Loneliness & Alcohol lend the song to the alt-rock genre and could gain the band new listeners.

Jars of Clay seem to be all about the little details that combine to make a good song great. A guitar solo here, a gentle horn accompaniment there – when these elements are all put together they create a cool multi-layered sound that’s rivalled only by Dan Haseltine’s easy on the ear vocals.

Overall a great album that deserves to be heard.