The Minnesota-based fivesome is maturing after five years as a band. Clear's newest project -- "Follow the Narrow," released by Ardent Records of Memphis, Tenn. -- shows deepening spirituality and a determined spirit. Songs reflect the experiences of a band that has grown with its music.
"Because all five of us grew up in Christian homes we have this foundation underneath us," said lead singer Alison Ogren, 21. But as its members have aged, faith has become personal, more essential. So has Scripture, a truth reflected in the new album, which offers moving melodies of Clear's brand of inspired folk/pop music.
The songs reflect the promises and values of such passages as the beatitudes of the New Testament and Psalm 18. "Psalm 18" begins with a seeker calling on God and being heard:
"From his temple, he heard my voice," the lyrics say. "My cry came before 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, but stresses that God is faithful in healing and delivering. The song was inspired by Christian author Max Lucado's book, "He Still Moves Stones."
Key songwriter and guitarist Matt Berry says Clear hopes the new album leads people beyond where they were when they first heard it. "If they can reflect on God and how amazing he is, that's a definite response we want," Berry said.
"This project really represents where our hearts and musical direction are currently," Berry said. "I guess I would say it's not necessarily a turning point for us as (much as) it is the next step in the growth process for us as a band."
The outlook and the language of this album are more intimate fare than Clear's earlier music. The music is more diverse.
Dave Caton, the bass player, has fine-tuned the upright bass in his repertoire, while Ogren has picked up the accordian.
Berry, also a vocalist for the band, says he is delighted with Clear's progress. "The fact that the five of us are still together after being on the road for almost three years is amazing," he said. "I'm proud of that because not only are we still together, but we're still growing."