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Jars of Clay Presents The Shelter
Artist: Jars of Clay
Label: Provident
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Duration: 11 tracks, 48:41 
Christian collaborations, and there have been many, are often very good and are often soon forgotten. Not the case with Jars Of Clay Presents The Shelter. Why? Crisp, clean production, orchestration, well matched harmonies, and the magical lyrics and music of Jars Of Clay as a foundation. What stands out for ...The Shelter are collaborations with Brandon Heath, Audry Assad, Mac Powell, Derek Webb, Sara Groves, Burlap To Cashmere, Leah Nash, and many others.
As with all great Jars tunes, the refrains grab and retain while musical innovation continues from song to song. There’s a magic to this writing and to this music found in few band’s offerings, Christian or secular, similar to the musical history of The Beatles (is it any wonder why so many refer to Jars Of Clay as the Christian ‘Beatles’?).  …The Shelter’s song collection is in the vein of pre-Who We Are Instead. Showing the style and grace of Jars past musical offerings, this effort shines in so many ways. Here is a well mixed group of songs ranging from acoustic and folk to rock with songs of praise, hope, community, and the human condition.
“Small Rebellions” sets the tone with a message of Christian daily life with the refrain ‘If our days could be filled with small rebellions, senseless brutal acts of kindness from us all’. The song is supported by strong musical accompaniment and features Brandon Heath sharing vocals with Dan Haseltine. “We Will Follow” features a great flow between lyrics and lead guitar with Lisa Gungor sharing vocals. The album’s ‘eye opener’ is “Eyes Wide Open” with a  great play of voices from Dan Haseltine of Jars, Mac Powell of Third Day, Derek Webb, and Burlap To Cashmere in a song underlined by simple, yet highly expressive percussion and strong acoustic guitar work.  
“Shelter”, a signature Jars piece and the album’s namesake, features Brandon Heath, Audrey Assad, and TobyMac highlighting the album’s community concept with lyrics ‘In the shelter of each other we will live’. A soft, sticky Jars song, ” Run in the Night (Psalm 27)” will stay in memory long after the song has ended,  in part due to the haunting refrain ‘By You I Can Run in the Night’. Something here pushes the listener to press replay – many times. Rockers include “Lay It Down” offering the triad of Haseltine, David Crowder, and Dawn Richardson bringing great harmony. “Out of My Hands” provides good pop rock featuring Mike Donehey and Leigh Nash.  Softer ballads include “Love Will Find Us” with Sara Groves and Matt Maher, and “Benediction” with Amy Grant.
Overall, this is a terrific collaboration of artists on each song with Jars personnel laying the foundation and leading the way. The song list brings us back to the shine and glimmer of earlier releases with thought provoking lyrics, ever evolving musical experimentation, and strong choruses.  While similar to the ‘City On A Hill series’, ...The Shelter brings a greater sense of continuity.
Jars of Clay Presents The Shelter is a topical piece much like Derek Webb’s recently released LPs, this time expressing the need for community. For the most part, this release stands strong with earlier Jars greats. This is most definitely a purchase for your collection. Beginning with Monsters, then The Long Fall…, Jars is back on top.  The again, have they ever really left?
SS Mertens
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