It seems that between albums Alice In Chains liked to release acoustic EPs, the former being Sap. I had actually gone into this thinking it was a direction change full length, with a mind for curation. Much like the current trend of short, high curated projects, Jar Of Flies has seven songs, a couple with distortion at just thirty minutes. Its all killer no filler and the emotionally wrenching magic it possess leaves one feeling like this should be seen as no side offering but some of the bands best music.
Once again the band let their Americana and Blues Rock influences flourish, mustering humid flows of steady paced and gorgeous, glistening acoustic toned instrumentals for Staley to take stage. He does as he does, pulling on your heart strings with a lonely despair and sorrow, bleeding his quiet suffering from a camouflaged voice. His delivery roars with a vulnerable power that lures you in with its catchy flow yet all that awaits is pain and darkness. The "My privacy is raped" line on Nutshell is particularly haunting. Its a line stuck in my mind for weeks.
Its the beautiful dichotomy of stunning, serine music and searing raw pain weaving this dazzling darkness again. The musicianship is sublime, tones of lucid arrangements oozing with inspiration as ripe guitar leads flow and complimentary instrumentation like the timely use of strings seem to arrive on time effortlessly in these songs. Its not without weak points however, from one to the other their is diversity in flavor and its last two tracks drop off from the path set beforehand.
Swing On This feels like a leftover idea from Dirt hashed together with some swashbuckling acoustics. Before it the soft and delicate Don't Follow with its Country tang guitars and harmonica doesn't quite resonate in the beginning with Cantrell's voice. The first five however are emphatic, Rotten Apple making a mark as their longest track to date. The whole project feels so deserving of a full length, the group nail this style almost as well as their grooving distortion songs.
Favorite Tracks: Rotten Apple, Nutshell, Whale & Wasp