Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Jars of Clay lead singer Dan Haseltine sings on "Fall Asleep," "Cause we only have this moment once in our lives," the words floating alongside some light piano plinkings. You're struck by a couple of things. You hear in that voice just how profound the meaningfulness of small chunks of time can be. Of course they're fleeting, but that's easy to understand. What's always been harder to grasp is the stickiness of time and how easy it can be for something or someone to carve out a place for itself in you, or to just adhere to the bottom of your shoe. There's little choice there. You're hoping the mercy rule can apply to whatever it is that gets it in its eyes to nestle. The other thing that feels fairly obvious in that line is that most moments that are remembered have something very specific to do with love. Even the horrible memories are such because of what love meant to them, what love drew out of them. It's the essential and with its new record, the Nashville band has written what might arguably be its best record in a long career.
"Inland" is a record filled with people who have been wrecked and they've been saved. They've been decimated and still found some rays of sunshine, even after the loneliness had eaten into them like acid. These are the brutally human stories that are eagerly told at recovery meetings. They might not have all of the action that some of the conventional stories addicts might tell, but these are coming from the regular gents and gentle ladies who weren't addicted to anything in any serious way, but were absolutely consumed by life as it unraveled -- from the good to the bad and back. There was ice and there was a thaw. There were shouts and dirty little secrets and then there were tears and on most lucky days -- forgiveness and understanding.