- Reading time: two minutes
- Word count: 373
- Published: 14 aug 2013
- Author: Matador the First
- Copyright: Matador the First, 2013
Jars of Clay’s newest single “Inland” pulls a neat trick: Starting out in a subdued mood, with just a drumbeat and quietly strummed acoustic guitar, it convinces you it’s going to be a slow album closer. But it builds slowly as it goes along—adding a bit of synth a few lyrics in, an oceany electric guitar the first time the word “ocean” is sung—then rises in the chorus, and goes a bit higher in the bridge.
The song maintains a slow but wonderfully insistent beat throughout, driven by drums and electric guitar, maintaining a sense of steady plodding forward walking. The bass moves lazily around the drums and rhythm electric, keeping the beat from feeling any faster than it is. You’re walking along, you’ve been walking for a while, and it’s not getting any faster, like you’re wearing down and the ground feels like it’s rising up to swallow your every footstep and you can’t step high enough.
In the choruses there are glimpses of hope. Everything brightens up, as if you’ve been plodding through dark woods for so long, and reminds of the hope that one day your walking will be done. The bridge, with its thin bright horns, is like a last big push: almost there, just a little farther yet, and then the song dims again, as in the first verses, before building up bright for the finish. It’s not a neat resolve—the walking beat has not gone—but it is a hopeful one.
It’s interesting that the first two singles from Inland that Jars of Clay have officially released—“After the Fight” and “Inland”—are, respectively, the first and last tracks of Inland’s announced track listing. Both songs tackle uncertainty, both admit anything can happen, but whereas “After the Fight” is terrified of, or at least worried about, what could happen, “Inland” has found calm. “After the Fight,” with its driving bass and slipping vocals, is balanced by “Inland” with its slow, insistent, marching pace and gentle but bright build-ups.
Having the first and last tracks released as the first two official singles for the album has got me wondering how the album in between will sound. Based on what I’ve heard so far, I pre-ordered the album, and I suggest you do the same. 27 August can’t get here soon enough.
- Artist: Jars of Clay
- Single: “Inland”
- Released: 1 jul 2013
- Genre: Alternative
- Duration: 4:12
- Label: Gray Matters
“Inland” is available for purchase on iTunes. The full album of Inland will be released on Gray Matters on 27 aug 2013. You can pre-order it in a variety of formats on Jars of Clay's official website.