Artist: Jawbone Hill
Label: Smart Records 
"You...fill me with breath of passion."
That lyric describes Jawbone Hill perfectly.  Hands down, they win my award for most passionate and emotional band.  The guitar tones simply bleed, and Dan Erb's voice overflows with passion.  Musically, they fall somewhere in the indie alternative emo category, but they're not scrapping it out with the pack on the market today.  No, they sit above said pack, on a tree branch, crooning wistfully to "the Artist about His beautiful light."  They've got a personality all their own, but sometimes Shawl-era Prayer Chain, Michael Knott's more subdued moments, The Violet Burning, and Vigilantes of Love come to mind as distant comparisons (vocals, lyrics, and music).  To fully appreciate the talent here, however, you need headphones.  Otherwise, you'll miss half of the sweet melodies the two guitars sing to each other throughout the album--under, over, and around Dan's vocals and the occasional well-placed jangle of distortion.  Lyrically, I found the poetry of "The Wolf" to be some pretty potent imagery for sin in our lives: 

    I feed my share to the wolves
     they're my friends
     I hold my heart near to the ground
     so they can feed
     they crack through flesh and bone
     they tear into my chest
     they take more than I give
 One problem I have with Grind, though, is that it lacks the standout cuts and variety which characterized their first album, Sackcloth and Sunshine.  All the songs seem to reflect the same tone, and it's hard to distinguish them from one another.  I prefer a wider range of emotions. Also, some of Dan's vocal inflections are a bit awkward if you're not totally in tune with his mood.  Still, they surpass most other Christian bands in so many areas that it's hard to complain.  Although Jawbone Hill has been courted by major labels, they're content for now with their local Pennsylvania following, and with continuing to be one of Christian rock's  best-kept secrets.-----Josh Spencer

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