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Having spent the last 20 years firmly entrenched in the contemporary Christian music scene in Nashville, Jars of Clay attempts to find some distance on this, their 11th studio album. The band traveled to record this album in Portland, Ore., with Tucker Martine (R.E.M. and The Decemberists). Lead singer Dan Haseltine avoids some of the overproduced vocals of past albums, giving his voice more natural tones, and even sometimes breaking into falsetto. Adding more instruments, horns, banjo, and the counterpoint of electric and acoustic guitars makes their sound more dynamic.

Inland still sounds like the band that fans are familiar with, but with a refreshing, updated sound. Never avoiding the biblical allusions to forgiveness and struggle, the themes are wide-ranging, from time spent in “Pennsylvania” to “Loneliness & Alcohol.” Jars of Clay have found a way to mature along with their audience. (Gray Matters)

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