Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Music To Write By: “Scenic Route” by Jars of Clay

Why Listen? For masterful use of metaphor; a fresh take on an old subject; aural originality.

Eclectic rockers Jars of Clay had the misfortune of achieving their greatest commercial success with their first album. Strangely, the band's audience has grown (or shrank, rather) in inverse proportion to its artistic maturity. That's a shame, because few acts combine aural originality and literary heft so well. Consider "Scenic Route" from 2009's The Long Fall Back to Earth. Perky pop-folk shaded with moody electronic flourishes provides the auditory backdrop for a long-running marital spat, one that the speaker is unwilling to end quickly. Standard enough subject matter, sure, but lead singer Dan Haseltine makes it fresh through inventive use of metaphor:
No nails to untie the knots.
No veins left to take the shots.
No touch to end a fight
Or letting who's wrong be right.

We're just sitting like novels
We've picked up but never read through.
You think you know my ending;
I think I know yours, too.
It's enough to make one want to brush the dust off of Thrall and Hibbard and get back to reading poetry.


YA Sleuth said...

Haven't listened to them in ages... Thanks for the reminder!

Loren Eaton said...

Their new stuff is very different. Some of the song of The Long Fall Back To Earth even ventures into glitchy electronica territory.

Chestertonian Rambler said...

I haven't heard Long Fall yet, but I feel they hit a 2-3 album slump after their self-titled album, before hitting their stride with Who We Are Instead (folk), Redemption Songs (remade hymns), and Good Monsters (Brit-rock). I really ought to check out their newest stuff--O My God from Good Monsters is one of my absolutely favorite songs.

pattinase (abbott) said...

New to me and I like them.

Loren Eaton said...


Who We Are Instead is their best album so far, hands down. I'd say that Long Fall comes in a close second. It's a completely different sound, as you can tell, but quite amazing all the same. Unfortunately, their latest album (The Shelter) is subpar in almost every way. Sad.

Loren Eaton said...


Glad you enjoyed it! They're an eclectic band, for sure.

Phil W said...

I didn't know their audience had diminished? I've always liked them, but funny enough, I missed the two albums you say are the best. I still enjoy Much Afraid and If I Left the Zoo. I suppose I like Good Monsters the most and Redemption Songs next. Still, I keep telling myself I should buy the others.

Phil W said...

Ha! I forgot what my profile picture for this account is.

Loren Eaton said...

Your profile is quite humorous.

I don't think Jars has release a gold-rated album since Zoo, alas. But pick up Who We Are Instead. It's heavily influenced by Johnny Cash. Really good stuff.