STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 1511-1934 LABEL: Essential 083061049928 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RRP: £12.99
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
From the haunting strains on the opener "Goodbye, Goodnight", with its quirky retro intro, and Seargent Pepper tinge to the closer "River Constantine", with its tapestry of deft acoustic guitars and ricocheting rhythms, this is a wonderful set. Less slick than the slightly sterile 'Much Afraid1 but with great songs, plenty of surprises in the arrangements and more proof that in Dan Haseltine Christendom has a superlative communicator able to bring passion and pathos to memorable poetic vignettes which shine with spiritual truth. 'If I Left The Zoo' asks the question "What would happen if I left this comfortable place?" Reflecting that theme the music itself has a quirky individualism where Counting Crows producer Dennis Herring pushes the band out from their comfort zones to produce music light years from the formulaic sounds of Nashville pop rock. Take the pump organ on the beautiful tender-hearted ballad "No One Loves Me Like You" or the gospel choir on "I'm Alright" which explores with insightful images the stunning truth that we sinners are righteous before a holy God. About the album, Charlie Lowell (whose accordion and keyboards add much texture and depth to the songs} said, "This is a record that expresses God's relentless pursuit of us as human beings. It's because of his unconditional love for us that we are allowed to be exactly who we are." Clearly a new sense of uniqueness has gripped Jars Of Clay. For this pristine album improves with every play.
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Described as 'a rare blend of innovation, artistry, ministry, and simple, good-natured fun, If I Left The Zoo features Famous Last Words, No One Loves Me Like You, Collide, Goodbye, Goodnight, and eight more songs including the hit single Unforgettable You which premiered in the film Drive Me Crazy.