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Jars of Clay: 'Redemption Songs'

By Belinda Elliott Producer In the band’s ten-year career Jars of Clay has been a pioneer among Christian music artists. They are not afraid to take risks, and their unique sound has earned them 16 number one radio hits and three Grammy Awards. Many of their songs have not only been well-received by a Christian audience, but have also earned placement among the secular music charts and in popular films and television shows.

Their musical and lyrical creativity often sets them apart from other bands, so it makes perfect sense that when they set out to produce a worship album they would follow a different path than other bands have chosen. The result, Redemption Songs, is a rare gem among the myriad of worship albums that are available today.

The album is a collection of soulful recordings of ancient hymns and spirituals, many of which have been recreated with modern music. Listeners will find traditional favorites such as “Nothing But the Blood” and “It is Well with My Soul,” along with songs they may have never heard before. The band spent countless hours searching through hymnals for lyrical texts that would speak to believers about the hope found in Christ.

The band’s intent, they say on the album cover, is to combine the rich lyrics of traditional hymns from the past with melodies that appeal to 21st century listeners. In an age where many churches have traded in their hymnals for overhead projection screens and sacrificed the depth of reflection and theology found in hymns for simplistic (though heart-felt) praise choruses, this is an admirable goal.

The familiar “Nothing But the Blood” is made new with a modern rock feel and features the amazing vocals of the Blind Boys of Alabama. Another rock track, “God Will Lift Up Your Head,” sets soothing lyrics to a steady rock beat. In another guest appearance, Sarah Kelly’s soulful voice adds depth to the already upbeat and stirring “I’ll Fly Away,” making it one of the best tracks on the album.

Other tracks, such as “Jesus I Lift Up My Eyes” and “They’ll Know We Are Christians By our Love” feature folk music similar to that of other Jars of Clay albums.

Overall, Redemption Songs is quite enjoyable and brings a comforting reassurance of God’s presence in our lives while paying tribute to some of Christianity’s most timeless treasures hidden in hymnbooks around the world.

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