One of the things I love about the Christian Music industry is that every now and then an artist (or group) bring out a worship album that is pretty special… and ‘The Shelter’ certain has potential for being one of those, with collaborators such as Mac Powell (of Third Day) Toby Mac, David Crowder and Amy Grant.
When I heard that Jars of Clay was releasing ‘The Shelter’ and that it was a collaborative effort I was a bit skeptical… as these albums seem to be pretty hit and miss (I mean can Toby Mac really work well with J.O.C.?). They seem to have a ‘make it fit’ feel rather than a organic natural feel… so will this work for J.O.C.?
I really shouldn’t have been worried as there is a reason that J.O.C. are 3 time GRAMMY award winners.
Where ‘The Shelter’ stands up better against collaborative albums, is the fact is the main thread weaving through the album is J.O.C. as a band… so any of the other artists on the album are adding to what the band brings to the table rather than the band conforming to the ‘guests’ styles. The Result is an album that flows really well, and it is also the reason that some of the artist like Toby Mac can fit on the album without ruining the flow of the album. On the track ‘Shelter’ Toby Mac becomes the Christian version of Timbaland adding just the tasty flavour to the song, adding enough to lift it up while Audrey Assad adds a wonderful mystical feel to the track.
My favourite tracks on the the album ‘ features the new darlings of the worship music scene Gungor. ‘We Will Follow’ is a real stadium anthem where you find yourself shouting “where you lead us we will follow”. Mac Powell and J.O.C. come together for a real thigh slapper, carrying on from the Glory Revealed series with the track “Eyes Wide Open’.
The album is highlighted by 3 main things, they are great songwriting, a focus on memorable choruses, and a good balance throughout the album… the album keeps momentum through the album even ‘Run in the Night’ (a track that has a feel of less speed) is still driven by a pounding driving bass, and is followed by ‘Lay it down’ a rocker featuring David Crowder… it all keeps driving – moving forward until the last two track which are ‘Love will find’ and ‘Benediction’ – two tracks about God’s love.
I love how they end the album with a blessing… a real sense of the church community.
I’ve listened to the album a couple of times now, and I love it. There is enough variety to keep it interesting, but nothing out of the realm of what you would expect J.O.C. to do on one of their own albums. It’s also great to see a band come together after years of soul searching to just worship the Lord our God.
ALBUM: 11 Tracks
LENGTH: 49 minutes