Something has to be said for this four-piece four-time nominated, two-time Grammy Award winning group from Illinois -- they never forget their fans. Furthermore - From The Studio: From The Stage is Jars of Clay's third project in just under a year following the release of their critically acclaimed and darn good album The Eleventh Hour and their first ever DVD, 11 Live. Furthermore is one of Jars of Clay's most unique projects to date as it consists of two CDs packed with over 20 songs to include a full live CD and a stripped-down acoustic studio CD.
The stand-out disc of the two in Furthermore is the first, "from the studio," which offers acoustic renditions of some new and old favorites with the introduction of three brand new songs. "From the studio" opens with "Overjoyed" from their 1997 sophomore project Much Afraid, which is notably different as its full upbeat sound is replaced with a cool and laid back yet prominent drum beat and jazzy piano. The sound of the record places the listener in the relaxed setting of a coffeehouse with the comforting aroma of gourmet bean beverages permeates the surrounding air and the soft yet catchy and contemplative sounds of a Jars of Clay acoustic set fills the room. Jars fans partial to their more pop-fueled rock tunes might not go for this different musical venture, but it's what Jars knows and does best and has been doing since they first picked up their acoustics together in the early nineties. A less technical but just as memorable rendition of last year's "Something Beautiful," a highlight from The Eleventh Hour, follows and fits beautifully among these revamped hits. "The Valley Song (Sing of Your Mercy)," the first new track on the record, is an acoustic worship ballad reminiscent of something that would normally be found on the City On a Hill projects which have have featured Jars' work several times now. The greatest difference from these songs' original arrangements is found in the group's reinventing of their classic song "Liquid." The tune's opening violins and Benedictine chants are replaced by a pronounced piano and a slowed vocal delivery as this acoustic folk rocker is transformed into a beautifully well-done ballad.
The acoustic rendition of "The Eleventh Hour" doesn't stray too far from its catchy original while the darker and more melancholic new recording "Dig," an Adam Again cover, serves as a standout number on the album and fits in just as well. The third and last new offering, "Redemption" is a more delicate acoustic worship ballad that relies on its storytelling aspect as its charm. The folksy "Love Song for a Savior" is a worthy rearrangement that remains true to its original to the point of almost becoming a tribute to its amazing and unforgettable predecessor. For the third time recorded on a Jars' project, "Frail" makes a grand transition to Furthermore while the stripped-down worship tuned "Needful Hands" from the group's contribution to the 1998 worship compilation Exodus is a fitting end to the the first disc.
"From the Stage" is an appropriate collection of eleven songs from last year's Eleventh Hour tour and are the audio tracks for the live cuts featured on their DVD 11 Live. Musically, this collection represents who Jars is now in a live setting and shows just how far they have come since their inception in the early nineties. When the band was adjusting to their almost-overnight success, they weren't exactly known for having a magnetic or energetic stage presence and, if anything, were memorable for how nervous they seemed on stage (does anyone remember their 1996 live Dove Award performance of "Flood?"). But here the guys have seven years of performing in front of large masses of fans under their belt it shows. Lead singer Dan Haseltine knows how to get the crowd participating in singing along with favorites and the band is tighter in their live performance than ever. What used to be a coffee shop act is now a seasoned pop/rock act and it transmits well here. The collection of live cuts includes such classics as "Like a Child," "Flood," and a worshipful and amazing 11-minute offering of "Worlds Apart," as well as other favorites that include "Crazy Times," "This Road," and several tracks from last year's Eleventh Hour.
For the Jars of Clay fan, Furthermore - From The Studio: From The Stage is a must and a delightful collection of Jars favorites. The acoustic music fan who might like old school Jars music a little better will definitely want to check out Furthermore. A brilliant project that more artists should experiment with, Furthermore - From The Studio: From The Stage is a great way to start off a promising year for CCM.- Review date: 2/1/03, written by John DiBiase
From The Studio (Disc 1)
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