As one of the foremost thinking-man's bands in alternative CCM, Jars of Clay has rarely played it safe. Every so often, however, the foursome appear to long for something more transcendent than their own artistry, and they go back to the very basics: their faith. The Shelter is one of those safe havens, a simple yet deeply affecting collection of songs about living out one's convictions in community. The group is not a stranger to creating in tandem with others, but this time the litany of guests -- among them, tobyMac, Third Day's Mac Powell, Brandon Heath, Sara Groves, Derek Webb, and other tastemakers in Christian music -- play by the rules of the house, that is, the rich synth pop soundscapes Jars adopted with their previous effort, The Long Fall Back to Earth. From the artist pairings all the way to the Sufjan-inspired community choir that shows up in a number of songs, The Shelter is a group effort in every sense of the phrase, succeeding in bringing home the idea that, regardless of what we bring to the table, we're all in this together.
AllMusic Review by Andree Farias