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forn03

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Reply with quote  #1 
I've long been a subscriber to the thought that a Jars album can't be fully appreciated until it's put in perspective by what comes next, which we've had some exposure to now. So coming up on 2 years and a new album later, just wondering what perspectives on "The Shelter" are.  I was pretty critical of it when it dropped and want to eat some crow on that.  First off, seeing a lot of it performed live changed my perspective on it a lot.  It felt like a Jars of Clay release at that point and not as much of a made-for-CCM album.  Production-wise, although the guest vocals supported the concept well, it just feels like too many voices simply for the sake of having more voices.  But strip that away and you see the project in a much different, more positive light.  Also, as I posted in another thread recently, I've been leading worship at my church for a bit past a year and have found "Small Rebellions", "We Will Follow", and "Shelter" to be strong corporate worship songs that aren't the typical fluff; and with messages sorely lacking in most other worship offerings.  What do you all think?
Christa622

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Reply with quote  #2 
First listen? I didn't really like the Shelter. I didn't like the sound of it or the melodies. I listened more and more in hopes that it would grow on me and it did. I began to hear the beautiful harmonies and honesty in the lyrics. I had the priveledge to see 5 Shelter shows in the span of 2 weeks and fell in love with the whole production. I think without those particular voices, the album would just not have worked. Not only were these artists part of Jars community, but they just matched the songs perfectly. And why not? They were written in collaboration with Jars. Post-Shelter, Jars played a few of those songs live, but it just didn't have the livelihood that they did without those other artists.

As for CCM/worship music...I used to listen to a lot of it. I don't really any more, but would still defend it. When I do listen, I still find it uplifting and worthy of what its intent was. If you put your heart and soul into it, only then, does it have meaning and purpose.

Wish the board was more active. Are people still not able to get in? They lose interest? Not aware its back up?
clayhazelnut

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Reply with quote  #3 
I still don't like it. It may still grab me some day but that's looking less and less likely.

The exception to the above is still "Eyes Wide Open", which I consider one of their best. Not to take any credit away from Jars, but I think that Burlap to Cashmere really has as much to do with the song being so great as anyone.
Christa622

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Reply with quote  #4 
Erik, agreed. EWO is one of my faves! Was awesome to hear Steven Delopoulus sing with them in PA last year! 
romelB

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Reply with quote  #5 
Most of the choruses are easy and I think they're songs that everyone could sing along. It's a "community" album - more collaborative and less personal. Yes, I did get the album's theme but I did not respond to it like I did on the previous albums.

Eyes Wide Open is my favorite track as well.
SealOfServants

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Reply with quote  #6 

Still ranked fairly low on my list of Jars albums, but I enjoy it a little more than at first.

EWO is also my favorite track off the album. RUTN would be next.

--Derek

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Reply with quote  #7 

May I offer a different perspective: Jars said at the beginning it's a kind of worship album. So for me, I try to ask, "how does it contribute to the worship genre?" before I ask something like, "how is it like other Jars albums?" In that light, I think The Shelter really stands out as pretty original. A lot of the songs on there aren't your "typical worship fluff" (as I believe someone put it already). But when listening to it, I think we have to remember they're meant for a different purpose. That is, the songs were written with a bent toward them being able to be sung by a congregation.

Therefore, these songs have to be more accessible in order for lay musicians to be able to sing and play them. (That's why worship music in general never sounds "as good" as what's on mainstream radio... the average person to be able to sing it... and that's okay... imagine trying to sing a song by, say, Radiohead in church!) So I try not to approach it quite the same way as I would another Jars album. Overall, I think their attempt to try to cultivate a more creative worship culture with The Shelter really valuable.

Worship album aside, though, I think Small Rebellions and Eyes Wide Open stand out as two of the best songs Jars has ever written. Lyrics and music both. I LOVE those songs, I could listen to them all day long... 




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trigger

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Reply with quote  #8 
It's grown on me quite a lot. I'm with the EWO folks and think it may be the strongest song on the album, but I also really enjoy Small Rebellions, Benediction, and Run In The Night.

It's certainly not a "traditional" Jars album (is there even such a thing?), but it has a few really outstanding tracks, and even the weaker songs are by far better than what I've grown to expect from most CCM worship music.
Daks

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Reply with quote  #9 
i love the cd! thanks libby! you're the best!
murlough23

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Reply with quote  #10 
It's interesting to see this topic at a point in time when I'm going through my entire CD collection and re-evaluating everything I own. They're organized alphabetically, so I just got to the J's in July (I started with the A's in April... hoo boy, is this gonna take a while!), and consequently, I'm most of the way through the Jars discography now.

Revisiting The Shelter didn't massively change my opinion on it - I still think it's one of Jars' weaker albums, but I admire the attempt to create a "worship" album of sorts that focuses on the idea of a community of God's people being His arms, feet, and other assorted body parts to the people who need Him. A few songs that I thought were way too simplistic at first started to speak to me later - most notably the title track, which I ended up using as a sort of theme for a small group retreat that I went on with some friends from church last year. (Really, if you take out the Toby Mac part, it's much easier to take the song seriously.) I just love that idea of us being a shelter to each other, but God being the one who makes it possible. He uses the community, but we don't worship each other - we're just a representation of His arms surrounding us. Something like that. It probably grabs me the way it does because in churches, this is often not the case. I don't know if it was intentional on Jars' part, but remember that brooding version of "They'll Know We Are Christians" at the end of Redemption Songs? To me, that song was pointing out something that should be true, but that sadly isn't a lot of the time, and then this one gives us more of a blueprint for how to make it true again.

"Eyes Wide Open" was my favorite track on the album at first, and I still love it to death, but I think "Love Will Find Us" has actually surpassed it. Just a gorgeous melody on that one - I love songs that have complex, intertwining arrangements, lots of things happening at once but all of it working together as a beautifully orchestrated whole. (Note to self: Don't try to teach this one to a small group on the fly when leading worship. it sounds better in your head than it does to the poor confused people all trying to follow along.) I think a lot of folks skip over this song because (a) it's in minor key, (b) it's slower and near the end of the album, and (c) the chorus isn't that easy to sing along too. But it's worth digging deeper into it. it's really the climax of the album, with "Benediction" (which I love despite not being having been an Amy Grant fan for ages) being more of a coda or "post-credits" scene, if you will.

On the flipside, a lot of the songs that I initially disliked have grown on me to the point where I'm less inclined to bag on them simply for not being as articulate as the average Jars song. The one that I still can't get over is "We Will Follow". I think it has a good message, but it's ruined by how obviously and repetitively they hammer that chorus home. I use to blame the guest musicians for the tracks I didn't like, and at the time I didn't know anything about Gungor. Since then I've become a huge fan of Gungor and I think they're one of the most creative worship bands that are still alive and kicking (RIP, David Crowder Band). Yet I still strongly dislike this song. It frustrates me.

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DISCLAIMER: The preceding post was a statement of opinion, and does not reflect the views of the members of Jars of Clay, the moderators of Jarchives, or any member of the Holy Trinity. In fact, it is only my opinion that this is my opinion. In my opinion, you may choose to believe that my opinion is fact, if in fact you are of the opinion that you are allowed to choose what you believe, which presupposes the opinion that you do in fact exist in the first place - in my humble opinion, of course. It is my opinion that all of my opinions are humble opinions, but this does not indicate a bias on my part against opinions which are, in my opinion, proud opinions.
trigger

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Reply with quote  #11 
I'm with you on Love Will Find Us. Somehow I overlooked it earlier. I think it's hauntingly beautiful. 
murlough23

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by trigger
I'm with you on Love Will Find Us. Somehow I overlooked it earlier. I think it's hauntingly beautiful. 


Sometimes I think it should be earlier in the album so that more people will notice it, but then I realize it has great emotional resonance exactly where it is. Plus I think it's the centerpiece of a trilogy of great songs all right there at the end of the album. (It still baffles me that Sara Groves sings on "Love Will Find Us", but co-wrote "Lay It Down". "Love Will Find Us" just sounds so much more like her style.)

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DISCLAIMER: The preceding post was a statement of opinion, and does not reflect the views of the members of Jars of Clay, the moderators of Jarchives, or any member of the Holy Trinity. In fact, it is only my opinion that this is my opinion. In my opinion, you may choose to believe that my opinion is fact, if in fact you are of the opinion that you are allowed to choose what you believe, which presupposes the opinion that you do in fact exist in the first place - in my humble opinion, of course. It is my opinion that all of my opinions are humble opinions, but this does not indicate a bias on my part against opinions which are, in my opinion, proud opinions.
haveapez

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Reply with quote  #13 
This album grew on me a lot.  The album that really hasn't is TLFBTE.  It has some interesting productions, but for me it's one of their weaker ones.

murlough23

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Reply with quote  #14 
TLFBTE is an album that I enjoy, but that I think could be stronger. Since it's more electronic, the musicianship (while still good) doesn't feel as innovative as it does on some of their more "organic" albums. Songwriting-wise, I applaud the album's consistent and sometimes uncomfortable examinations of different types of relationships. But even there, you have fluff like "Don't Stop" and "There Might Be a Light" and - yes, I'll say it - "Two Hands", that just doesn't measure up. It's one of the few albums that I think might be better if it were a little shorter.
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DISCLAIMER: The preceding post was a statement of opinion, and does not reflect the views of the members of Jars of Clay, the moderators of Jarchives, or any member of the Holy Trinity. In fact, it is only my opinion that this is my opinion. In my opinion, you may choose to believe that my opinion is fact, if in fact you are of the opinion that you are allowed to choose what you believe, which presupposes the opinion that you do in fact exist in the first place - in my humble opinion, of course. It is my opinion that all of my opinions are humble opinions, but this does not indicate a bias on my part against opinions which are, in my opinion, proud opinions.
Daks

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Reply with quote  #15 
At this time i am listening to jars albums in random and The Shelter is the one I am in awe. This is for me A Masterpiece. I am really into The Shelter right now and it is my favorite album since I first listen to it. When it comes to top notched melodies and the harmonies, nothing compares with The Shelter.
murlough23

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Reply with quote  #16 
I was kinda bummed that we didn't get a Shelter poll for Jars 20 and that they apparently won't be re-recording anything from it. It's not my favorite Jars album, but it has a few of my favorite Jars songs on it, and even if some of my least favorites got picked, re-doing them "unplugged" might just elevate the material a bit.
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DISCLAIMER: The preceding post was a statement of opinion, and does not reflect the views of the members of Jars of Clay, the moderators of Jarchives, or any member of the Holy Trinity. In fact, it is only my opinion that this is my opinion. In my opinion, you may choose to believe that my opinion is fact, if in fact you are of the opinion that you are allowed to choose what you believe, which presupposes the opinion that you do in fact exist in the first place - in my humble opinion, of course. It is my opinion that all of my opinions are humble opinions, but this does not indicate a bias on my part against opinions which are, in my opinion, proud opinions.
steve_l_murphy

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Reply with quote  #17 

I have listened through the album start to finish maybe 5 times throughout the 3 and a half years that I've had it. I've listened to individual songs moreso. The only ones that I kind of like are The Shelter and Run in the Night. In my opinion, this album is their worst. It is the only album of theirs that I really cannot get into. Maybe because it is too much like the rest of CCM. 

 

I just don't understand that, Jars has been wanting to break away from the label "Christian Music" or "Christian Band" for years, but they are kind of trapping themselves in this bubble with albums like this.

Just my thoughts, don't shoot me [tongue].

 

murlough23

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by steve_l_murphy
I have listened through the album start to finish maybe 5 times throughout the 3 and a half years that I've had it. I've listened to individual songs moreso. The only ones that I kind of like are The Shelter and Run in the Night. In my opinion, this album is their worst. It is the only album of theirs that I really cannot get into. Maybe because it is too much like the rest of CCM. 

 

I just don't understand that, Jars has been wanting to break away from the label "Christian Music" or "Christian Band" for years, but they are kind of trapping themselves in this bubble with albums like this.

Just my thoughts, don't shoot me [tongue].


I think the aim of that album was to create something as a collective of artists, that added to the conversation of what "worship music" means in our current age, but also to emphasize the importance of community in our worship. I'm not saying they did the most amazing job of it. it's probably my least favorite Jars album, too, and there are moments where I don't feel that they rose above the cliches that they were (presumably) trying to avoid. More baffling is how some other artists I deeply respect, like Gungor or Leigh Nash for example, contributed to some of the most cliched tracks on the album.

For me the songs that really break away from the norm are "Eyes Wide Open" and "Love Will Find Us". They don't sound like simple CCM worship songs to my ear. I also strongly respect the closing "Benediction"; it's really more like half a song, but it's quite understated compared to the disaster we might have expected from a Jars/Amy Grant duet. It's beautifully performed and it makes me think about what it means to bring someone back into the community who has been ostracized from their home; to show them Christ's love when other Christians have treated them hatefully.

I don't intend for any of this to sway your opinion on the album, per se... just pointing out where I feel they got it right despite the album's inherent flaws.

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DISCLAIMER: The preceding post was a statement of opinion, and does not reflect the views of the members of Jars of Clay, the moderators of Jarchives, or any member of the Holy Trinity. In fact, it is only my opinion that this is my opinion. In my opinion, you may choose to believe that my opinion is fact, if in fact you are of the opinion that you are allowed to choose what you believe, which presupposes the opinion that you do in fact exist in the first place - in my humble opinion, of course. It is my opinion that all of my opinions are humble opinions, but this does not indicate a bias on my part against opinions which are, in my opinion, proud opinions.
Daks

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Reply with quote  #19 
Jars of Clay Presents The Shelter is a brilliant work of art. Thank you for the music.
datraceman

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Reply with quote  #20 
Ironically, I've been listening to The Shelter a lot in recent months. As a musician, I really like the dynamics and the choices made in some of the songs. I go back and forth but I think "Lay it Down" is my favorite. It really has a driving feel to it and I love that brief pause before the final chorus. 

"Small Rebellions" also has some interesting production to it. 

I think a lot of the hate is people not understanding this was not meant to be a Jars of Clay album. It was meant to be a full collaboration effort but the record company went "eh..." and it became Jars of Clay and Friends. 

That said, I really like the album despite some of its weaknesses. 
murlough23

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by datraceman
Ironically, I've been listening to The Shelter a lot in recent months. As a musician, I really like the dynamics and the choices made in some of the songs. I go back and forth but I think "Lay it Down" is my favorite. It really has a driving feel to it and I love that brief pause before the final chorus.


There's a version of that song on Sara groves' The Collection. Seems like it didn't begin life as a driving rock song (which makes sense, given the source). It always confused me that she wrote that one, but didn't sing on it, but did sing on the song after it, which she didn't write.

Quote:
Originally Posted by datraceman
I think a lot of the hate is people not understanding this was not meant to be a Jars of Clay album. It was meant to be a full collaboration effort but the record company went "eh..." and it became Jars of Clay and Friends.


That was sneaky of them. I probably would have showed zero interest in that album if it had been marketed as a true "various artists" sort of deal like City on a Hill. Essential loves to crank out endless variations of those, and I'm actually surprised they wanted to market The Shelter as a Jars album, considering their history of not seeing eye to eye with Jars on the subject of worship music. (I'm also surprised that the band is still in a position to be manipulated by the record label to begin with. Didn't they go indie after Good Monsters?)

So did the original idea for this not come from Jars? That might explain why they left it out of the Jars 20 polls. I guess the band played nice when they were interviewed about the album at the time, so I had no idea that there was any executive meddling going on. They did still play at least a handful of its songs ("Eyes Wide Open" if nothing else) at their retrospective acoustic shows in 2011-12, so I feel like there's some amount of ownership there.

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DISCLAIMER: The preceding post was a statement of opinion, and does not reflect the views of the members of Jars of Clay, the moderators of Jarchives, or any member of the Holy Trinity. In fact, it is only my opinion that this is my opinion. In my opinion, you may choose to believe that my opinion is fact, if in fact you are of the opinion that you are allowed to choose what you believe, which presupposes the opinion that you do in fact exist in the first place - in my humble opinion, of course. It is my opinion that all of my opinions are humble opinions, but this does not indicate a bias on my part against opinions which are, in my opinion, proud opinions.
datraceman

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Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by murlough23
That was sneaky of them. I probably would have showed zero interest in that album if it had been marketed as a true "various artists" sort of deal like City on a Hill. Essential loves to crank out endless variations of those, and I'm actually surprised they wanted to market The Shelter as a Jars album, considering their history of not seeing eye to eye with Jars on the subject of worship music. (I'm also surprised that the band is still in a position to be manipulated by the record label to begin with. Didn't they go indie after Good Monsters?)


They were indie after Good Monsters to a point. In a sense, they created their own label so that they could not deal with being under contract to Essential. Before TLFBTE, Essential gave Jars an advance of money to make each record and had some say in Producers, release schedule, budget, etc. 

After Good Monsters, Jars was indie in that Essential gave them no money up front to make the record. For Christmas Songs, TLFBTE, and the Shelter Jars funded the records but Essential became the official distributor. This means Essential got the record out, did some publicity, and made sure it had prime placement in Lifeway Stores, Family Christian, etc. So, even though they had no say in the creative process, they could look at Jars and go "we don't like this idea and will not distribute it unless you do this." So, Jars has to weigh the cost-benefit of what they did. They had already sunk money in the Shelter and making it happen so they could either eat that money and not get the record out OR come to a compromise with Essential especially because some of the guest artists could not appear on the album if Essential said no. 

The Shelter conflict probably directly led to Jars going 100% indie on Inland. They put up all the money and did their best to set up distribution without Essential's help so that they could see if they could exist without their help. They definitely have not sold as many copies of Inland as they would have liked BUT this way they make more $$$ per CD or vinyl than they would if it was distributed through Essential. It's a big trade off. It's why Matt is quoted as saying "sometimes you have to go all in and see how it works out." 

Granted, I am not a friend of the band and have not conversed with them regularly. This is my summary of a few years worth of interviews that are available on the web and information based on articles about Jars status within the music industry. If anyone has confirmed information that contradicts mine, please correct me as most of this is conjecture and research.
murlough23

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by datraceman
They were indie after Good Monsters to a point. In a sense, they created their own label so that they could not deal with being under contract to Essential. Before TLFBTE, Essential gave Jars an advance of money to make each record and had some say in Producers, release schedule, budget, etc. 

After Good Monsters, Jars was indie in that Essential gave them no money up front to make the record. For Christmas Songs, TLFBTE, and the Shelter Jars funded the records but Essential became the official distributor.


I was aware that Essential came back on board just for distribution purposes when TLFBTE was released. I thought Christmas Songs had been done entirely without them, because they had wanted to make that Christmas record back in the day and Essential said no. But it's been seven years, so my memory could be a bit fuzzy.

The Shelter, I figured was largely an Essential-driven thing due to a lot of artists from their roster appearing on the project. I just wasn't clear on whether it was originally Jars who said "we want to do a worship record on our own terms now that we feel ready to approach the subject" or Essential who said "we want to put out another multi-artist worship compilation; are you guys interested?" and then Jars ended up contributing the lion's share of the best material and so it became a Jars-oriented project after the fact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by datraceman
The Shelter conflict probably directly led to Jars going 100% indie on Inland. They put up all the money and did their best to set up distribution without Essential's help so that they could see if they could exist without their help. They definitely have not sold as many copies of Inland as they would have liked BUT this way they make more $$$ per CD or vinyl than they would if it was distributed through Essential. It's a big trade off. It's why Matt is quoted as saying "sometimes you have to go all in and see how it works out."


And that's a decision that I greatly admire them for making. It's become almost necessary for a lot of artists - even established ones who used to really well on major labels - to do this nowadays just to protect their creative process. I figured they weren't getting rich off of a self-funded, self-released record or anything, but if it enables them to keep making music as their dayjobs, then more power to 'em. It is a risky system that could potentially turn on a band at any time (all it takes is one release that is widely unpopular with the fandom), but by this point they seem to recognize and be grateful for a built-in fanbase that has faithfully followed them despite numerous stylistic shifts in the past. I do look back and wonder if some of my favorite Jars albums would have been even better had Essential not meddled in them, but I'm amazed that those albums came out so darn good given the circumstances.

I do wonder if the StageIts and other things they've done for us fans for a nominal cost have become necessary as an alternative way to raise money for future projects. Either way, I enjoy a lot of the extra goodies I get for chipping in, so I'm not complaining.

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DISCLAIMER: The preceding post was a statement of opinion, and does not reflect the views of the members of Jars of Clay, the moderators of Jarchives, or any member of the Holy Trinity. In fact, it is only my opinion that this is my opinion. In my opinion, you may choose to believe that my opinion is fact, if in fact you are of the opinion that you are allowed to choose what you believe, which presupposes the opinion that you do in fact exist in the first place - in my humble opinion, of course. It is my opinion that all of my opinions are humble opinions, but this does not indicate a bias on my part against opinions which are, in my opinion, proud opinions.
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