When a band has been plugging away for close to 20 years, there’s always the risk of unintentionally shifting into auto-pilot. The better you get at your craft, the easier it is to rely on what you’ve already accomplished and what has already proven to be successful. One sure-fire way to gauge where a band falls on the cruise control spectrum is in the way they approach their live performances and in what directions their new songs are headed.
For a fantastic example of a band that has destroyed the cruise control function, thrown the map out the window, and pressed the pedal to the floor, look no further than Jars of Clay and their new NoiseTrade Eastside Manor Sessions EP.
With the release of their new album Inland (out August 27) cresting the horizon, Jars entered the eclectic Eastside Manor to record a few of their new songs in an intimate, uncluttered live setting. These versions of “Age of Immature Mistakes,” “Loneliness & Alcohol,” and “Fall Asleep” showcase a band who is full steam ahead in their continuing pursuit of writing good songs, penning rich lyrics, and taking risks with each new batch of songs. They also created a stripped-down version of fan favorite “Dead Man (Carry Me)” for inclusion as well. Rounding out the EP is the album version of “After the Fight,” the stirring opening track from Inland.
As an additional bonus, the guys set up outside the studio for a whimsical run-through of their cover of Talking Heads’ “Road to Nowhere.” We all did our best not to audibly sing along, but I’m pretty sure you can still hear a couple of extra background singers in the video below.
Although the final product speaks to Jars of Clay’s talents and their ambitions for their new songs, there were also multiple incidental moments throughout the day that showcased their forward momentum and camaraderie from years of playing together. Whether it was the impromptu romp of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” that telepathically bounced between each band member while everyone was getting set up or the nonchalant (yet jaw-dropping) acapella harmonies of “Fade to Grey” they used to warm up their voices so early in the day, the guys really created a beautiful musical atmosphere that is tangibly evident on the EP and the short behind-the-scenes/performance film. So make you sure you check out both!
Jars of Clay will be releasing their new album Inland (produced by Tucker Martine) on August 27.