If I may open this review candidly, I have to be honest and admit that it feels ever so slightly strange to be reviewing a digital record released exclusively on iTunes. But to not draw attention to a project such as Jars Of Clay's iTunes Originals would ultimately be a crime.
iTunes Originals opens with a disposable intro track that serves as a prelude to "Sunny Days" from their record Who We Are Instead. This collection of songs gives the listener highlights of Jars Of Clay's career, weaving interviews with several of the band's members throughout the project to sort of navigate people through the past decade of making music. Within the plethora of tracks are seven brand new acoustic recordings of classic Jars offerings exclusive to this release. Among those is also the previously unreleased cover of Julie Miller's "All My Tears," featuring Ashley Cleveland. These new versions are raw and personal. Songs like "Silence" are given a powerful breath of new life, as the polished original is forsaken for a guitar and piano-driven lament. The band's interviews offer detailed insight into the history of Jars Of Clay, discussing pivotal moments and songs of their career while using track selections and the new versions to fill in the gaps and serve as examples of their recollections.
The song selections for the "iTunes Originals Versions" are unique. They mix up radio hits with fan favorites and lesser-known tracks, including "Silence" and the beautiful piano ballad "My Heavenly," with the likes of "Flood," "Frail," and "Show You Love." The collection draws to a close as the group brings the listener up to the present, beginning with a new rendition of "Nothing But The Blood," describing the original recording experience with The Blind Boys Of Alabama as a career highlight. The new song "All My Tears" follows, and they finish with the appropriate "I'll Fly Away" from Redemption Songs.
Jars Of Clay's iTunes Originals is a real treat for fans as it chronicles memorable moments from the band's career as told by the members themselves. Sort of an interactive encyclopedia entry on Jars Of Clay's history, the end result even serves well as a worthy introduction to this incredible alternative pop/rock quartet. Get to know Jars Of Clay a little better and check out Jars Of Clay's iTunes Originals.- Review date: 11/8/05, written by John DiBiase
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