The Minnesota-based fivesome is maturing after five years as a band.Clear's newest project -- "Follow the Narrow," released by ArdentRecords of Memphis, Tenn. -- shows deepening spirituality and adetermined spirit. Songs reflect the experiences of a band that hasgrown with its music.
"Because all five of us grew up in Christian homes we have thisfoundation underneath us," said lead singer Alison Ogren, 21. But as itsmembers have aged, faith has become personal, more essential. So hasScripture, a truth reflected in the new album, which offers movingmelodies of Clear's brand of inspired folk/pop music.
The songs reflect the promises and values of such passages as thebeatitudes of the New Testament and Psalm 18. "Psalm 18" begins with aseeker calling on God and being heard:
"From his temple, he heard my voice," the lyrics say. "My cry camebefore him into his ears, Looking down he made me his choice."
The album also speaks to real life and real needs. For example,"Able and Willing" illustrates how life can wound a Christian, butstresses that God is faithful in healing and delivering. The song wasinspired by Christian author Max Lucado's book, "He Still Moves Stones."
Key songwriter and guitarist Matt Berry says Clear hopes the newalbum leads people beyond where they were when they first heard it. "Ifthey can reflect on God and how amazing he is, that's a definiteresponse we want," Berry said.
"This project really represents where our hearts and musicaldirection are currently," Berry said. "I guess I would say it's notnecessarily a turning point for us as (much as) it is the next step inthe growth process for us as a band."
The outlook and the language of this album are more intimate farethan Clear's earlier music. The music is more diverse.
Dave Caton, the bass player, has fine-tuned the upright bass in hisrepertoire, while Ogren has picked up the accordian.
Berry, also a vocalist for the band, says he is delighted withClear's progress. "The fact that the five of us are still together afterbeing on the road for almost three years is amazing," he said. "I'mproud of that because not only are we still together, but we're stillgrowing."