The new jars of Clay album, Good Monsters, was released today and I picked it up on the way home and popped it into my car CD player. I'm now giving it a second listen on my computer. So far so good! The first two songs, "Work" and "Dead Man (Carry Me)" were both on the Mini-Monsters EP that was released four weeks ago. Those songs got a lot of listens in my car - in fact, the EP lived the whole month in my 6-CD changer, the only CD to do that the whole time. (The new Sandra McCracken has been there almost as long and still lives in the changer too - it may be there for a while yet.)
The good news about this album is that Steve Mason got his electric guitar out again and, over the last tour, it is clear that he learned how to make it rock over a mostly acoustic backing. This is Who We Are Instead (their mostly acoustic album of three years ago) on steroids. Add guest appearances by Leigh Nash and a few others and you've got a really fine album.
I don't think the mainstream market is ready to listen to Jars of Clay again - they see their first album as a fluke and probably won't give Good Monsters a listen. That's a shame because they're in a good place right now and this album is lots of fun to listen to. I'm looking forward to digging into it more - I liked Mini-Monsters a lot more after repeated listenings.