NASHVILLE, TN…. 12/14/07…Currently on the “Christmas Offerings” tour with fellow rockers Third Day, the multi-platinum and three-time GRAMMY-Award wining band Jars of Clay is celebrating the resounding success of their debut Christmas CD, Christmas Songs.
Also the band’s first project on their newly launched label Grey Matters via Nettwerk Music Group, Christmas Songs is receiving mass critical acclaim from the likes of The New York Times, USA Today and many others (see reviews below).
As the only artist on the R&R Christian AC Monitor chart with two of their own Christmas songs in the Top 30, the singles from “Christmas Songs” are also receiving great support from Christian radio: “Love Came Down at Christmas” jumped eight spots this week from #30 to #22 at R&R AC Monitor, and “Wonderful Christmastime” debuted on AC Monitor at #29.
Jars of Clay recently provided a captivating hour of holiday music on national tv with the world premiere of the Gospel Music
Channel’s Christmas at Union Station: Jars of Clay. The special will also be shown throughout the month of December (www.Gospelmusicchannel.com
Jars of Clay launched their career with the universal hit, “Flood,” in 1995. Since then, they have amassed more than five million in career sales along with several RIAA certifications (5 Gold, 2 Platinum and 1 Double Platinum) an American Music Award nod, 17 No.1 radio hits, and numerous film credits and BMI honors for songwriting and performing. While celebrated for its music and writing, Jars of Clay is most concerned with the needs in Africa. Compelled to make a difference, members Dan Haseltine, Stephen Mason, Matt Odmark and Charlie Lowell founded the Blood:Water Mission in early 2002. The first effort of this non-profit was the “1000 Wells Project” with a goal of raising funds to build, rebuild and repair 1000 wells in urban and rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa. To date, 200 wells have been constructed bringing clean water to more than 100,000 people.
USA TODAY assesses 12 tunes from 2007 that might have some staying power, including Jars of Clay’s original, “Hibernation Day”
“With its counterpoint vocals from Christine Dente and lyrics that extol the virtues of cocooning in blankets that “make a cozy little cave just for two,” this gently swaying number from Jars’ Christmas Songs disc could be the morning-after follow-up to Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
“….an eclectic mix of songs – from carols popular and obscure to originals that reflect the sometimes contradictory tones of the season…… there is plenty of joy in this mix, too, from the hopeful "Peace Is Here" to a welcome reworking of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime."
“For a Christian rock act a Christmas album isn’t merely a novelty or a cash-in; it’s a chance to bring together old sacred songs with new (and sometimes secular) ones. So it goes on “Christmas Song,” from Jars of Clay…. There is a sleek version of Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime,” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” gets a warm-and-buzzy makeover. Fans who want a more theological experience can seek out “Peace Is Here: Christmas Reflections,” the companion hardcover book.
Indeed, Christmas Songs is a wonderful little album, with a version of Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” that miraculously doesn’t make you want to bang your head against a wall until it bleeds, and a perfectly majestic original called “Peace Is Here”, which sounds like something Lennon might have written were he still around. The crowning achievement here is an electronic take on the standard “O Little Town of Bethlehem” which changes the melody entirely, in the process re-establishing the solemnity and quiet majesty of the song. It’s hard to say that Christmas Songs will be remembered for years from now, but for right now, it’s refuge from the bombast of the season, a perfectly subtle slice of Heaven.
The earnest Christian outfit brings an appealing, electro-pop shimmer to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and O Little Town of Bethlehem. A few moments drag, but snuggly originals Hibernation Day, Winter Skin and Peace Is Here have a bit of a Beatles vibe.
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