With a deft combination of rock gems, driving pop songs, and heartfelt ballads, Jars of Clay is back with The Eleventh Hour
. This is a record that reclaims the passion and honesty that captivated millions of music fans introduced to their innovative blend of harmonious folk, techno and alt-rock stylings in the mid-1990s. This is a record whose effect is sure to be felt across the musical landscape.
"We wrote this record to inspire people to dig deeper into their soul. We want people to feel the depth, height and width of love and longing through this collection of songs. Only our fans will be able to tell if we accomplished our goal,” notes Charlie Lowell.
With nearly five million records sold and a decade of musical history under their belt, Jars of Clay comes full circle, reentering the studio as both artist and producer.
Dan Haseltine adds, “For a while it seemed like rock ‘n’ roll had become a passionless wasteland. Pop music had stopped having a conscience or a beating heart. There was no desire to connect with people through their passions and longings. Artists writing from this perspective had their hands tied. No one was listening. Even before the September 11 attacks, it seemed like songwriters were gaining back their strength - a listening ear ready to hear songs that would stir people to think and feel and grow and act. It seems like people have taken up searching again, and have taken up writing songs for them again.”
Jars of Clay emerged out of the St. Louis college music scene. Singer Dan Haseltine, keyboardist Charlie Lowell, guitarist Stephen Mason and guitarist Matt Odmark began writing together in the basement of a college dormitory.
In the wake of beating out 200 other bands in a national competition, Jars of Clay’s humble surroundings changed quickly. The band’s name, symbolizing the frailty of mankind, became a vital reminder to exercise humility in the light of critical acclaim. Jars of Clay signed a major label recording contract in 1994. Shortly after, they began producing their self-titled debut record with a little help from guitar legend, Adrian Belew (David Bowie, Talking Heads, King Crimson, NIN).
Jars of Clay
released in May 1995 and with the release came overnight success. The record sold over two-million copies, earned a Grammy nomination and in 1996, stayed on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart for an entire 52 week-cycle.
The album, propelled by the smash radio single “Flood,” crossed over nearly every format reaching the top of numerous charts - including alternative rock, pop, AC and gospel, where Jars connected with fans eager to move beyond the often simplistic messages emerging from within that genre. Their success was further driven forward by touring. They shared the stage with artists like Seal, Lenny Kravitz, Jewel, matchbox TWENTY and were an opening act for Sting on his “Mercury Falling” tour. Jars of Clay performed 300 shows in one year and staked their claim as a dynamic and engaging live band.
In late 1996, Jars of Clay abandoned the idea of self-producing their second record. They relocated to London to team up with noted producer Stephen Lipson (Simple Minds, Annie Lenox, Pet Shop Boys) and songwriters Mark Hudson (Aerosmith, Ringo Starr, Bon Jovi) and Gregg Wells (Crash Test Dummies, Celine Dion, Hanson). Much Afraid
debuted at #8 on Billboard Magazine's Pop Album chart and gave Jars of Clay their first Grammy Award.
For record number three, Jars turned to top producer Dennis Herring (Counting Crows, Cracker, Buddy Guy) and set up camp down south in Oxford, Miss., in search of new musical influences. If I Left the Zoo
hit the top of Billboard’s Internet Album Sales chart and gave Jars their second Grammy award. Acoustic guitar player, Matt Odmark, also earned the prestigious Gibson Guitar Award for his work on the recording, beating out music legends Bob Dylan and Jon Bon Jovi.
Odmark notes, “We have learned a great deal from the talented producers we have worked with over the last eight years. It has taken us a long time to come to terms and not be overwhelmed by the thought of producing our own records, but we believed it was time to make a record without filtering our ideas and molding our music into some other producer’s vision. It was time to get back to the root of what makes Jars of Clay a powerful band.”
“We found that when we stripped away all the surrounding opinions and outside influences and made decisions based on our own instincts we functioned at our artistic best. There was a resurgence of oddly familiar passion felt by everyone while we were writing these songs. We were giddy and restless. It was a spirit we had not felt since writing the songs for our first record,” adds Haseltine.
The Eleventh Hour
, produced by Jars of Clay and mixed by Jack Joseph Puig, is a collection of emotionally charged anthems centered around the concept of human longing.
On this record Jars of Clay reconnect itself to the passions and convictions, the sorrow and the joy that permeate the human condition of faith and faithlessness. Through the haunting mantra of “Silence,” the musical assault of “Revolution” and the transparency of “I Need You,” the listener is drawn into the breath and soul of Jars of Clay.
Odmark states, “When you listen to this record, I hope you don't hear the noisy vocabulary of religion. I hope you hear music that is because of faith rather than about it. I hope you hear our lives in each and every note, sound and lyric. I hope you hear the joy and the heartbreak of friends wrestling to sing in harmony, not perfectly, but believably. I hope this collection of songs will remind you how to believe.”
The Eleventh Hour
is a poignant combination of vivid imagery and musical mastery from one of pop music's most inspiring bands. Jars of Clay returns with one of the most innovative and provocative albums of our decade.
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